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Kemp begins to scale back coronavirus orders
Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp discusses the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in a news conference April 1, 2020, at Liberty Plaza in Atlanta. - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON — Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday the state would begin to allow some businesses to reopen prior to the expiration of the statewide shelter-in-place order on April 30.

Gyms, bowling alleys, salons and some other indoor facilities closed under the shelter-in-place order will be allowed to reopen Friday as long as they follow social distancing guidelines and other safety standards.

In-person dining at restaurants will be allowed again starting April 27 once those restaurants meet the requirements released by the state later this week. Bars and nightclubs will stay closed.

“These are tough moments in our state and our nation. I hear the concerns of those that I’m honored to serve,” Kemp said. Kemp also said Georgia’s drastic measures helped ease the pressure on the state’s healthcare network.

When questioned about the pressure he faced by possibly opening the state too soon, Kemp staunchly defended his decision.

“Well I can tell you I don’t give a damn about politics now,” Kemp said while noting he’s more concerned about Georgians “going broke worried about whether they can feed their children and make the mortgage payment.”

Kemp announced another partnership to help expand COVID-19 testing in the state. Augusta Health is the latest group to offer its services for testing to help the state “double down” on testing capability. Augusta Health will also release a free app to help screen for the disease.

The Georgia National Guard will also mobilize 10 new “strike teams” to help administer tests.

The governor also said hospitals would soon be allowed to resume elective surgeries.

Kemp also said religious leaders can resume in-person services if they adhere to safety policies.