Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order June 11 rolling back many of the COVID-19 restrictions in place since April, including ending the shelter-in-place mandate for those 65 and older, reopening live music venues, and permitting larger gatherings.

Effective immediately, residents and visitors of Georgia who are 65 year of age or older are no longer required to shelter-in-place place unless they live in a nursing homes, long-term care facilities, or assisted living communities. The “medically fragile” (including those with lung disease, asthma, heart disease, severe obesity and compromised immune systems) must remain on lockdown until July 12.

Effective June 16, most restrictions are now lifted on restaurants, including party size and the number of people allowed inside an eatery. Servers must wear a mask when interacting with patrons. Bars can now serve up 50 people  – up from 25 – or 35% of total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater. Salad bars and buffets must have hand sanitizer, sneeze guards and social distancing, and regularly replace shared utensils to allow patron self-service.

Also on June 16, restrictions on the number of patrons at movie theaters is lifted and walk-ins are now allowed at body art studios, barber shops, hair salons, their respective schools, massage therapy establishments and tanning facilities subject to specific requirements.

Beginning July 1, live performance venues can reopen and conventions can resume if they meet safety guidelines. The order also establishes guidelines for resumption of amateur and professional sports leagues.

The full order can be read at this link.

The loosening of restrictions comes as Georgia shows an increase in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus. As of Jun 11, there were 54,973 confirmed cases and the death toll stands at 2,375. Officials are concerned that the recent protests following the police-involved murder of George Floyd will cause a spike in cases. Protesters have been encouraged to get tested.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.