(CNSNews.com) - "In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus’ spread, today, we are announcing plans to incrementally and safely reopen sectors of our economy," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) told a news conference on Monday.
He noted that many Georgians are facing serious financial hardship with their livelihoods in limbo, something that is "not sustainable for the long-term."
Kemp said hospitals may now resume elective surgeries.
And, he continued:
Given the favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our healthcare professionals, we will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists to reopen their doors this Friday, April 24, 2020. Unlike other businesses, these entities have been unable to manage inventory, deal with payroll, and take care of administrative items while we shelter in place.
This measure allows them to undertake baseline operations that most other businesses in the state have maintained since I issued the shelter-in-place order. This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions. This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.
Kemp said he stays in close contact with local leaders, and over the next few days, he will continue to closely monitor existing and potential hotspots in the state.
It will not be business as usual for businesses that reopen, Kemp warned:
Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions, including adherence to Minimum Basic Operations, social distancing, and regular sanitation. Minimum Basic Operations includes, but is not limited to, screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, enhancing workplace sanitation, wearing masks and gloves if appropriate, separating work spaces by at least six feet, teleworking where at all possible, and implementing staggered shifts.
Subject to specific social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27. We will release more information in the next few days.
Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides, and live performance venues will remain closed. In the days ahead, we will be evaluating the data and conferring with public health officials to determine the best course of action for those establishments. By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we have all made in the battle against COVID-19.
Kemp called his announcement "a small step forward."
He said his "shelter-in-place" order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, and he advised Georgians to follow that order "as often as you can."
"Limit your travel, and limit who goes with you on errands to prevent potential exposure. If possible, wear face masks or cloth coverings when you are in public to slow the spread of coronavirus. For medically fragile and elderly Georgians, make plans to shelter in place at least through May 13 – the date Georgia’s Public Health Emergency expires."
Kemp said he's helping his own mother by running errands so she doesn't have to go out, and he urged his fellow Georgians to do the same for their elderly relatives and friends.