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Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order rolling back most of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions  went into effect today, April 8, eliminating the gatherings ban, sheltering in place requirements, and distance requirements for bars, restaurants and other places of businesses.

“Many small business owners are still struggling under the impact COVID-19 has had on our economy,”  Kemp said in a video released last night. “We know hard working Georgians cannot endure another year like the last.”

Describing pandemic restrictions as a ‘thing of the past,” Kemp said it was time to “return to our way of life in the Peach State.”

“Georgian’s know the right thing to do; they know the best practices to protect themselves and their families,” Kemp said. “Because of our measured approach, Georgia has emerged from this crisis more resilient than ever. From now on our message is clear: Georgia is open for business.”

Kemp encouraged state residents to get the vaccine and noted in a press statement that more than 4 million doses have been administered in the state as of April 3.

Georgia’s loosening of pandemic restrictions come as public health officials have seen a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and the variant first detected in the United Kingdom become the most common strain in the U.S.

“It’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase,” infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN, noting Europe is experiencing a spike much like the one experts worry about for the US. More than 61,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Collin Kelley

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.