HHS secretary visits Atlanta as state lifts more coronavirus restrictions

ATLANTA — More coronavirus restrictions are now lifted in Georgia.

The change comes as a new model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. will see more than 201,000 COVID-19 deaths by October. That projection is up 30,000 from just last week.

Starting today in Georgia, there is no limit on the number of people who can sit together at restaurants. Business owners are hoping this will now bring in more customers.

Kemp's executive order basically opens the state up for business. Starting today there isn’t a limit on the number of people per square foot at restaurants and no longer a limit on party size.

Only employees interacting with customers will be required to wear masks, and cafeteria-style service will be allowed. Restaurant owners say the real impact will come when customers regain their confidence to eat out again.

“I think it’s going to be awhile before we can get back to what was normal,” said restaurant owner Susie Inglett. “I think I’m looking more forward to people not being afraid.”

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As the state eased restrictions, the Health and Human Services secretary visited metro Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was the only reporter with Alex Azar, who visited the CDC and toured a Walmart Health Center in Paulding County.

Dozens of states are seeing an uptick in cases again, though Azar believes that is caused by increased testing. Critics say the uptick is due to early reopening plans like the one in Georgia.

But Azar praised President Trump’s efforts and Kemp’s plan, too.

“What we’re seeing in places like Georgia or other parts around the country is as we reopen, people can get back connected to work, school, to summer camp to health care in ways that are safe,” he said.


  • Gatherings of 50 people are now allowed if people are at least six feet apart.
  • There is no longer a maximum of people who can dine together in restaurants as one party. Workers in restaurants now only need to wear face coverings when interactive with customers.
  • Bars can now hold up to 50 people or 35 percent of their capacity, whichever is greater.
  • Salad bars and buffets can resume with cafeteria style service where a restaurant worker serves customers.
  • Overnight summer camps can resume only if campers and workers have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 12 days.
  • Conventions can resume if they meet 21 specific requirements.
  • Live performance venues may reopen on July 1 if they comply with extensive state criteria and a long list of restrictions on the venue.
  • There is no longer a limit on the number of people who can sit together in one party at a movie theater.
  • Walk-ins are now allowed at barbershops, hair salons, massage therapy centers and body art studios.
  • Professional sports teams can meet but must follow rules set up by their respective league. High Schools and collegiate teams must meet any guidelines set by their athletic conferences. Amateur sports teams and organizations must follow any criteria set by the state for non-critical businesses.