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By Jeremy Turnage |

ATLANTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says officials will be reopening parts of the state’s economy beginning Friday.

“Throughout this entire process, from creating the coronavirus task force to today, we have relied on data, science, and the advice of health care professionals to guide our approach and decision-making,” Kemp said. 
“We have been surgical, methodical, and tactical — always putting the health and well-being of our citizens first.”

In a Monday afternoon news conference, Kemp said several businesses such as gyms, bowling alleys, salons, and massage therapists will be allowed to open again beginning April 24.

However, Kemp said, those businesses would still not be operating under a “business as usual” mindset. Instead, the governor said reopening those businesses would allow them to manage inventory and payroll.

Social distancing measures would also be strictly enforced with these businesses. These businesses will also have to screen employees for fever, enhance sanitation efforts, require the wearing of masks and gloves, keep people at a distance of 6 feet, encourage teleworking, and consider staggered shifts.

Other businesses, such as theaters, personal clubs, and restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27.

“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 said.

However, venues such as bars and nightclubs will continue to be closed.

As of Monday, the state remains under a shelter-in-place order until April 30.

That order will expire, Kemp said, but “medically-fragile and elderly” residents should continue to shelter-in-place until May 13.

“Given the heightened risk of adverse consequences from your exposure to coronavirus, this is the recommended – and safest – path forward,” Kemp said.

Kemp said the state continues to move in the right direction to allow them to reopen certain businesses.

Still, Kemp said all of this depends on the state’s ability to increase its testing capacity.

“As I’ve said before, testing defines the battlefield and informs our long-term strategy. These efforts significantly increase our capacity as we take measured steps forward,” Kemp said.

That’s where Augusta University Health is stepping in. Kemp applauded AU’s COVID-19 screening app and said it would be expanding to statewide this week.

According to Kemp, anyone in the state will be able to download and use the app to get themselves screened for COVID-19. If a screened patient is believed to have the virus, then they will be able to schedule a test at a nearby testing facility. 

“This app has enhanced public health while reducing exposure for our doctors, nurses, and medical staff. We are encouraging symptomatic Georgians to download the app this week and begin the screening process,” Kemp said.

The governor plans to release more information about businesses reopening later this week.

WRDW

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