Gov. Kemp signs order to lift some COVID-19 restrictionsGov. Brian Kemp speaks during a televised town hall on March 26. Screen shot taken from a live feed of the town hall event.
Atlanta, GA — While the end of the pandemic is in sight as millions of people get vaccinated, experts are warning that the country could see yet another surge of COVID-19 cases.
But Gov. Brian Kemp is forging ahead with lifting COVID-19 restrictions, announcing on March 31 that effective April 8 there will no longer be a ban on public gatherings and removing social distancing requirements in restaurants.
Kemp told Fox News that continuing the restrictions would hurt businesses.
Here’s a summary of one of the executive orders Kemp announced today:
– Eliminates the Gatherings ban
– Eliminates Shelter-in-Place requirements
– Removes the critical infrastructure distinction and collapses all organization suggested measures into one main list, with a small number of additional industry-specific requirements remaining
– Reduces any remaining distance requirements (i.e. distance between parties at restaurants, bars, and movie theaters, and between patrons of group fitness classes)
– Eliminates the ability of law enforcement to close an organization for failure to comply with the Executive Order provisions
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky this week warned the public about “impending doom” as cases have started creeping up again.
CNBC reported, “The U.S. is recording a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 16% increase compared with a week ago, according to an analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.”
Amber Schmidtke, a public health microbiologist who regularly writes about the pandemic in Georgia, said Kemp’s order sends the wrong message.
“I’m less concerned about the restrictions lifted themselves and more concerned about the message this sends to the public. Only 12% of the GA population is fully vaccinated, more transmissible variants, pandemic fatigue. It reminds me of another premature victory declaration,” she said on Twitter, referencing George W. Bush’s infamous declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in the second Iraq War. “This mission accomplished declaration will prolong the pandemic. People will get sick, people will die who didn’t need to. We are SO CLOSE to the end of this thing. I don’t understand why this couldn’t wait another month.”
Other Public Health experts also panned the idea in interviews with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The AJC notes that under the new rules, many safety measures will still be in effect, like restaurant workers having to wear masks.
The AJC also published an investigative story showing the governor ignored public health experts at key moments during the pandemic. For the full story, click here.
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