Georgia, much like the rest of the United States, has been doing its best to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. This has meant closing schools and non-essential businesses, enacting social distancing measures, and ordering Americans to shelter in place at their homes. However, Georgia citizens’ days of sheltering in place might soon be coming to an end. On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp announced he will be gradually allowing businesses to reopen starting Friday, April 24, 2020. How do you feel about this decision, and if you are a small business owner, how are you planning to handle this? Let the Don Turner Legal Team know on our Facebook page!
On April 24, select businesses in Georgia, including gyms, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, and barber shops will be allowed to reopen under this new measure. By April 27, theaters and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen their doors to the public. However, these businesses will still have to abide by social distancing guidelines. This means screening workers for respiratory symptoms, maintaining proper workplace sanitation, and staggering shifts to minimize the number of people in contact with each other. Other businesses , such as bars and nightclubs, will still remain closed until further notice.
While Governor Kemp’s decision allows select businesses to reopen their doors, that does not mean every business owner is planning to do this. In fact, the reaction among Georgia business owners has been decisively mixed. Some business owners are grateful to reopen their doors and avoid having to lay off their employees. Others are uncertain whether or not they can run their business properly while abiding by Governor Kemp’s guidelines, as many of the businesses being allowed to reopen involve close contact with customers. Some businesses have chosen to remain closed altogether for the time being, despite having the green light to reopen.
Be aware that despite Governor Kemp’s recent decision, Georgia remains under a shelter in place order until April 30. Once this order officially expires (and there is no indication that it will be extended), we can expect to see more businesses across Georgia being allowed to reopen. It will take some time before we return to business as usual in Georgia, but the data indicates that it is ready to begin happening. According to Governor Kemp, reports of emergency room visits for COVID-19-esque symptoms, along with confirmed COVID-19 cases are declining in Georgia.
Our federal government’s plan to reopen America in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak involves three phases. As of this writing, our governor feels the state of Georgia is on track to meet Phase One by having access to an adequate number of hospital beds, testing measures, and a way to track contact spread of the novel coronavirus. Georgia has already expanded its hospital bed capacity, and Governor Kemp has expressed his intention to partner with the Georgia health system and double down on testing.
Brian Kemp has encouraged Georgia citizens to help the testing process along by downloading a virtual screening app from Augusta University, which maintains a drive-through testing center. By using this app if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can streamline the testing process and reduce stress on the testing site workers. The Georgia National Guard will also be deploying to select hot spots to conduct testing, starting this week. This testing service is completely free and requires no insurance information, so feel free to take advantage of it.
Although a number of businesses throughout Georgia will be reopening their doors in the coming week, Georgia courts will remain closed for nonessential matters until May 13, per Chief Justice Melton’s judicial emergency order. Make sure to keep checking your court’s website and stay in touch with your court clerk – this emergency order has led to many hearings being moved well into the summer months, and you need to be prepared once your next court date is on the calendar.
Soon, many businesses across Georgia will have the opportunity to reopen their doors to the public and begin returning to normalcy. Are you one of the business owners who is ready to get back to work, or are you planning to approach things a bit more cautiously? And as a Georgia citizen, how to you plan to handle Governor Kemp’s decision? No matter how you feel about it, one thing is quite clear – Georgia has officially embarked on the road to recovery.