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Kemp allowing shelter-in-place order to expire, with exceptions for elderly, medically fragile
Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp

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By Nathan Berg and Nate McCullough

Gov. Brian Kemp will allow Georgia's shelter-in-place order to expire tonight for "most Georgians," but he will extend it for the elderly and medically fragile until at least June 12. 

Elderly is defined as those 65 and older. Medically fragile includes those who are immunocompromised, have chronic lung disease, moderate or severe asthma, severe heart disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. The order also applies to those living in nursing home or other long-term care facilities.

The governor is also extending the state of emergency until June 12 and keeping enhanced testing efforts in place. The governor advised Georgians to “continue to stay home whenever possible.”

Businesses will be required to continue observing social distancing and sanitation guidelines through at least May 13.

"Those rules vary by business type for a measured, health-driven approach," the governor said in a statement. "The health and well-being of Georgians are my top priorities, and my decisions are based on data and advice from health officials. I will do what is necessary to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of our people."

Open sales registers must be kept at least six feet apart at all businesses, and unnecessary person-to-person contact prohibited.

Retail businesses, including grocery stores, will be required to sanitize entrance and exit doors at least three times per day, as well as limit customers inside stores to 50% of fire capacity occupancy. All non-critical retail establishments are required to post signage on storefronts stating that individuals suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, may not enter the store. 

Dining rooms and restaurants must consistently screen and evaluate workers who exhibit signs of illness and require them to seek medical attention. All food service employees will be required to wear face covering at all times. Restaurants are also required to design a system preventing patrons from congregating while waiting for seating, switching to a reservations-only business model “where practical.” Party sizes are to be limited to no more than six people. 

Indoor movie theater employees working in food service areas must adhere to the same protocol as restaurant employees. Movie theaters must also keep parties of customers at least six feet away from each other, limiting party size to no more than six people. All seats, armrests, handrails, doors, doorknobs and door handles in theaters must be thoroughly sanitized after each showing. Tape must be applied at ticket counters and concession stands at intervals of six feet to enforce social distancing among patrons waiting in lines. 

Gyms and fitness centers must place signage at all entrances instructing patrons not to enter if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have come in contact with a person that has or is suspected to have COVID-19 or are displaying any symptoms. Gym employees are to screen all patrons and prevent anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 from entering. Gyms are also required to provide sanitation wipes near all equipment, and each piece of equipment must be wiped down after every use. 

Bowling alleys must place signage at entrances and throughout facilities reminding patriots to practice social distancing. Parties of six or more people are not permitted, and employees working in food service areas must adhere to the same guidelines as restaurant employees. All bowling balls and shoes must be thoroughly sanitized after every use. 

Body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, massage therapists and tanning facilities, as well as all their respective schools, may provide services by appointment only. All patrons will be required to sanitize hands upon entering facilities. Only one patron per service provider will be permitted to enter the business at a time, and workstations will either be staggered, allowing only the use of every other workstation or moved to more than 10 feet apart from each other. 

All bars, nightclubs, public swimming pools, live performance venues and operators of amusement park rides will remain closed through at least May 13.

The governor is also ordering long-term care facilities "to utilize enhanced infection control protocols, ensure safer living conditions, and protect residents and staff from coronavirus exposure."

The shelter-in-place order expires at 11:59 p.m. April 30.