An Overview Of Georgia’s Coronavirus-Related Restrictions

A member of the Georgia National Guard prepares to enter the Provident Village assisted living and memory care home to clean and disinfect hallways and common areas in the building in Smyrna, Georgia, earlier this month.

Every U.S. state implemented restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Businesses reduced or ceased operations, people transitioned into working and learning remotely, and nonessential activities were paused. At least temporarily, much of the country was under strict orders to stay home.

But as of May 20, all 50 states have begun the process of easing restrictions on businesses, though public health experts say that some are doing so too quickly. At a May 12 Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, expressed concern about some states and localities skipping federal guidelines to open prematurely.

Here is an overview of what restrictions looked like in Georgia, which have lifted and what the state is doing to try to control the coronavirus. (To see information for all 50 states, click here.)

  • Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statewide shelter-in-place order on April 3, which expired on April 30. Businesses are ordered to follow strict sanitation and social distancing protocols through May 31. Kemp extended the public health state of emergency through June 12 and has ordered elderly and medically vulnerable individuals to continue sheltering in place until then. All Georgians are encouraged to stay home whenever possible. 
  • May 12 executive order changed certain rules for some businesses and extended closures for others through May 31. Businesses are divided into three categories and must follow industry-specific guidelines.
  • Georgians must continue practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings in public. Gatherings of groups larger than 10 people are prohibited unless individuals can maintain at least six feet of distance from each other.
  • Restaurants can allow 10 patrons per 300 square feet of public space and accommodate tables with a maximum of 10 people, up from six. They must continue to follow specific health and safety protocols.
  • Under the May 12 order, overnight summer camps remain closed but day camps can resume if they meet certain criteria. Child care facilities can expand the maximum number of people allowed in a single classroom from 10 to 20 as long as the required staff-to-children ratio is maintained.
  • Bars, nightclubs, public swimming pools, live performance venues and operators of amusement park rides are closed through at least May 31.
  • Kemp announced on April 20 that gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, aestheticians, and massage therapists could reopen for business on April 24. They must adhere to “minimum basic operations” and implement social distancing and regular sanitation.
  • The Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers has issued guidelines for the reopening of salons and spas.
  • Theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services may reopen beginning April 27. Kemp announced that drive-in movies can operate if they comply with the directives of the shelter-in-place order.
  • An April 27 executive order provides additional guidance for foodservice establishments, bowling alleys and theaters.
  • Kemp extended the closure of all public K-12 schools through the end of the school year.
  • Kemp said on March 31 that the Georgia National Guard will be deployed to assisted living facilities and nursing homes to assist with containment measures.
  • Beaches and state parks remain open, though there are restrictions on the use of chairs, tents and umbrellas on beaches.
  • Georgia is working to increase hospital capacity for an anticipated COVID-19 patient surge. It purchased four temporary medical units, for a total of 88 beds, which were deployed across the state in mid-April. It is also reopening two health care facilities to increase the number of general and ICU beds available for coronavirus patients over the course of April and May.
  • An April 8 executive order suspended short-term vacation rentals across the state through April 30.
  • Georgia’s primary elections have been delayed to June 9.
  • The Georgia World Congress Center has been converted into a 200-hospital bed alternate care facility.
  • Kemp signed an order suspending enforcement of the state’s anti-mask statute so that Georgians can comply with public health guidance. State officials are directing Georgians to wear face coverings in public settings where social distancing may be difficult.
  • An emergency rule allows workers to make up to $300 a week without reducing their weekly benefit amount, enabling employees working reduced hours to qualify for state and federal benefits.
  • On April 23, Kemp signed an executive order for “reviving a healthy Georgia,” which outlines specific provisions for the limited reopening of certain economic sectors effective May 1 through May 13. Georgians must continue following specific social distancing and sanitation practices. A modified version of the order is extended through May 31.
  • On May 5, the state distributed 150 pallets of personal protective equipment — its largest shipment to date — to hospitals, health care facilities, testing sites and the Department of Corrections.
  • May 8 executive order temporarily extends the 30-day renewal requirement for weapons carry licenses for those that expire between February 13 and June 12.
  • Through a donation from AT&T, the state is deploying 448 WiFi devices known as WiFi Rangers to 36 rural school districts. Each Ranger can provide internet connections for up to 45 devices at one time.
  • May 12 executive order clarifies that individuals who received driver’s licenses during the pandemic, while road tests were temporarily suspended, must take a road test by September 30.
  • The University System of Georgia said its institutions are planning to resume face-to-face instruction in the fall.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $12 million grant to the Technical College System of Georgia’s Office of Workforce Development to address workforce-related impacts of the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 testing is available by appointment for all Georgians, regardless of symptoms.
  • Kemp announced that more than 220 Georgia companies have signed up to provide personal protective equipment and health care supplies to businesses.
  • The state Department of Agriculture launched Georgia Grown To-Go, a series of pop-up markets that will enable customers in metro areas to purchase fresh produce directly from farmers with limited contact, drive-through service.
  • Kemp announced best practices for film and television productions planning to resume filming in the state.