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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signs order rolling back many COVID-19 restrictions

The governor's order will eliminate bans on gatherings and shelter-in-place requirements.

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed orders that will roll back many of the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place for the state.

Wednesday, Kemp signed off on three executive orders; one of them loosens some of the guidelines that have been in place for months.

The governor's order will eliminate bans on gatherings and shelter-in-place requirements. This will go into effect on April 8 and last through April 30. It also reduces the remaining distance requirements that restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and fitness classes have been using to space out their patrons.

The governor's office said the order also removes the ability of law enforcement to close establishments for not complying with executive order provisions. According to the Georgia State Patrol, troopers issued 21 citations to individuals for violations of the orders over last year.

The other orders extend Georgia's public health state of emergency through the end of April and will allow state agency employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine without having to use sick or annual leave to do so. 

RELATED: Gov. Brian Kemp quarantining after exposure to COVID-positive individual, spokesperson says

The news comes the same week Kemp decided to self-quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. His office said on Monday the governor was believed to be exposed to a person with the coronavirus while touring tornado damage in Newnan, Georgia on Saturday. Kemp tested negative for COVID, after taking a rapid-response antigen test Monday morning.

A day before the Newnan tour, on Friday, Kemp did receive the single shot Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine at the Ware County Health Department in Waycross, Georgia. However, as with the other vaccines, health experts say full inoculation against the virus isn't complete until roughly two weeks after receiving the full dose.  

It's been more than a year since Kemp first announced the public health emergency. 

Now with the vaccine rollout in the state well underway - and available to all Georgians 16 and older - officials are hoping to see a decline in cases, deaths, and hospitalizations linked to the virus.

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