On Friday, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order that lifted many of the state’s remaining coronavirus restrictions.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the lift will roll back requirements that called for restaurants to mandate social distancing and end safety guidelines for gyms, movie theaters, barbershops, and many other businesses involved in close contact.
The executed 28-page order is set to take place immediately and will also end the requirement on restaurant workers to wear masks.
It will also lift more limits on conventions and scales back the restrictions placed on live performance events. Sports organizations will also be able to have events more easily.
On Friday, the White House announced that 100 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated, 3.5 million Georgians have received their first dose.
Still, public health experts have criticized Kemp for relaxing the restrictions, saying it gives a wrong message to the public. Some scientists are concerned that there are more worrisome strands of the virus and that the public should stay vigilant.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University infectious disease expert, cited federal data that shows Georgia still lags most of the nation in distributing the vaccine.
“It’s too soon. We can still have an explosion of new cases like other states have experienced,” he said. “We’re catching up on vaccinations, but doing away with masks and social distancing at this point could turn around all the progress we’ve achieved so far.”
Adding, “We’re in the seventh inning — we still haven’t won the game. You’ve got to bring them closer in, and you can still blow the lead.”
Democrats are ready to pay back Kemp for his failure to protect Georgians and his lax stance on the virus in his upcoming 2022 reelection.
“Brian Kemp has failed Georgia at every stage in this pandemic, and now he’s ending even the most bare-bones restrictions keeping Georgians safe,” said Maggie Chambers, the party’s spokeswoman.
However, Georgia is not alone. Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Mississippi, and West Virginia have also made significant rollbacks.
“I want to continue to urge people to get vaccinated,” the governor said at an event this week. “It’s our ticket back to normal, when you think about people getting back into the Braves’ stadium, college football this fall, people going on vacation.”