Georgia to Roll Back Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions on Thursday in Favor of Guidelines

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the state will be lifted on Thursday, a move that will allow businesses to return to a level of normalcy.

“We are taking steps every day to return to normal. We’ve come a long way, but we had not yet finished the race. Many small business owners in our state are still struggling under the impact COVID-19 has had on our economy. And we know hard-working Jordans cannot endure another year like the last,” Kemp said in a video statement on Tuesday.

“That is why beginning tomorrow. We are loosening the remaining restrictions on our economy here in Georgia.”

Kemp said the state restrictions to be lifted include eliminating the ban on gathering, shelter-in-place requirements that were first put in place about a year ago, and social distancing requirements for bars, restaurants, and other places of business.

The state is also eliminating the ability of law enforcement to shut down a business or organization for failure to comply with the state’s executive orders.

Instead, the state will issue “recommended guidance” consolidated into an easy-to-use list, the governor said.

“Georgians know the right thing to do. They know the best practices to protect themselves and their families,” he said.

“As our COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in the right direction, and with all Georgians age 16 or over now eligible to receive the vaccine, Dr. Toomey and I are now encouraging everyone to roll up their sleeve and get their shot so we can continue making steady progress to return to our way of life in the Peach State,” the governor said.

Georgia is the latest state to roll back on its pandemic restrictions such as mask mandates and indoor capacity limits despite warning of another surge of virus by the Biden administration. Other states that have already lifted or announced their intention to lift restrictions include Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, and Wyoming.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had also sued officials in the City of Austin and Travis County for failing to comply with a governor order that lifted a mask mandate across the state.

In late March, President Joe Biden and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Americans about prematurely declaring a victory against the virus, while adding that there was still potential for another wave of cases.

On Tuesday, Biden announced that all American adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 24.9 percent of the adult population in the United States has been fully vaccinated against the virus, meanwhile 42.4 percent of adults have received at least one dose as of April 7.

Walensky announced on Wednesday that the more contagious UK variant of the virus, known as B.1.1.7, has become the most dominant strain in the United States.

“Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” Walensky said.

Colorado officials also announced on Tuesday that the Brazilian variant of the virus, known as the P.1 variant, has been detected in the state. There have been 356 cases of this variant reported in 25 jurisdictions in the United States, according to the CDC.

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