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Georgia’s shelter-in-place order ending for most

Maggie Lee
Brian Kemp at a podium outdoors Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp at an April 20 press conference. Credit: screenshot
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp at an April 20 press conference. Credit: screenshot

By Maggie Lee

Governor Brian Kemp declined to renew a shelter-in-place order for most Georgians that expires April 30, even as critics keep saying he’s moving too fast to reopen the economy.

“I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our healthcare infrastructure, and flattened the curve. We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over,” Kemp said in an April 30 press release.

Kemp said he urges all Georgians to continue to stay at home whenever possible.  A memo from his office directs state agencies to continue to let employees telecommute if they can do so “without impact on job performance or productivity.”

He expects businesses to abide by social distancing and sanitation rules.

But Democrats are taking a lead among those accusing the governor of putting business before health with what they see as a dangerously fast reopening schedule.

“Today’s decision will have consequences — for our overworked health systems, for our struggling essential workers, and for our lives,” said Nikema Williams, an Atlanta state senator and chair of the Democratic party of Georgia.

“It’s a science problem, this is not an economic problem,” said Macon state Rep. James Beverly, a Macon Democrat, anticipating the expiration of the shelter-in-place order Thursday.

“The science suggests that we need to shelter in place,” Beverly said.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been prominent on broadcast media among Georgia mayors criticizing Kemp’s decision to start letting businesses reopen. She’s urged people to stay at home and avoid the risk of catching the virus.

Yet two marquee Atlanta malls, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, are set to reopen Friday.

The mayor told Council Thursday that she spoke with the leader of Simon Property Group, which owns both malls.

“I … shared with him my position that it is too soon,” Bottoms said.

Bottoms has appointed an advisory committee on reopening the city, which is set to deliver recommendations to her by May 15.

Medically fragile and older Georgians will be covered by a new shelter-in-place order that will expire June 12.

Georgia reports 26,208 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon.

The expiration of Kemp’s order comes about a week he issued an executive order allowing some businesses like salons and restaurants to begin to reopen.

About 80% of the Georgians hospitalized for COVID-19 are black, according to a Centers for Disease Control study of a sample of hospital patients. The disparity reflects ongoing, systemic inequities that harm African-Americans’ health.

Documents:

April 30 memo from office of Gov. Kemp to state agencies

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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