As of April 8, Governor Brian Kemp declared Georgia, “Open for business,” after he signed Executive Order 03.31.21.03 on March 31, which rolled back many of the current COVID-19 restrictions in place.
According to a press release the new order:
*Became effective April 8 through April 30, 2021
*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
What does that mean for Liberty County residents and business owners?
While the order does allow local business owners to begin going back to the way things were prior to the pandemic, it doesn’t mean everything will go back to the way they were before COVID hit our area.
The County did open outdoor facilities at the Liberty County Recreation Department which are subject to normal scheduling/ reservation requirements. However all indoor facilities will remain closed for the time being.
But County Administrator Joey Brown said the County will continue to encourage the use of masks and social distancing as they monitor the COVID numbers.
Brown said, if needed, the County can still set certain limits on County run and owned facility as long as the Healthcare Emergency remains in effect. Brown said the County’s COVID numbers are down but are still in excess of the original level established by the governor to allow local mask mandates.
“Since the facilities are county owned I believe the county has the right to institute limits and access as long as a public health emergency exists which he did not cancel,” Brown said. “The only change in the new order was to lift the 50 person mandate and the stay at home provision. All other provisions, the large majority imposed, are still active under the public health emergency declaration.”
Brown said the County will continue to limit access to the general public in attending their County Commissioners meeting while the Public Health Emergence remains in effect. The County will continue to live stream those meetings on their Facebook Page.
During the April 7 County-wide COVID update City of Hinesville Manager Kenneth Howard said the City will also limit outdoor activities and will consider event permits on a case by case basis as they monitor COVID numbers and as the Public Health Emergency remains in effect until the end of April, unless the Governor extends it.
The Governor’s Executive Order does mean that local restaurants can go back to full capacity indoor dining and without spacing requirements. Movie theaters and businesses are no longer subject to limited access or social distancing requirements but it is still strongly encouraged.