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Gov. Kemp's latest COVID executive order could have major impact on businesses across state

Several requirements for businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be lifted.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order Friday lifting additional guidelines and restrictions connected to COVID, some of them in place for nearly a year, by the beginning of May.

RELATED: 'Georgia is open for business' | Gov. Kemp lifts many COVID-19 restrictions

It comes after the governor earlier this month lifted many remaining restrictions, declaring that, "Georgia is open for business."

The previous changes included:

  • No more 6-foot distancing requirements for businesses
  • No more restrictions on the size of gatherings
  • No more shelter-in-place required
  • No more enforcement of the remaining restrictions

Some measures were left in place, however, such as a mask requirement for service workers.

The governor's office said the order also removed 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.

Another order issued at the beginning of the month had extended Georgia's public health state of emergency.

Friday's order makes a handful of significant changes, including the:

  • Elimination of distancing requirements at bars and restaurants and mask requirements for workers.
  • Elimination of all specific requirements for gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, body art studios, estheticians, hairstylists, and massage therapists.
  • Reduction of the requirements for conventions.
  • Elimination of requirements that childcare facilities prohibit all unnecessary visitors.

Live performance venues will also now be held only to the requirements of organizations in general regardless of seating capacity, the governor's office said. Similarly, the latest executive order "clarifies" the point that graduation ceremonies are only required to follow the guidelines for other organizations.

However, professional, collegiate, and high school sports organizations will still operate under the constraints issued by their respective leagues, conferences, or associations.

Meanwhile, social distancing and sanitation requirements for residents and visitors have been changed to "strongly encouraged."

The latest executive order takes effect on May 1 and continues through May 30.

The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in Georgia now, available to all residents age 16 and up. The state reports more than 3.5 million Georgians, or 34 percent of the state, have received at least one vaccine dose, while about a quarter of the state is fully vaccinated.

Despite the availability, those numbers continue to place Georgia near the bottom among states.