ATLANTA — Almost all COVID restrictions end on Memorial Day 2021, following an executive order from Governor Brian Kemp. There are a few statewide restrictions in place, but it’s a vast difference from where the state was one year ago today.
In May of 2020, cases were spiking just a few weeks after the statewide shelter in place was lifted. But now, COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to drop, highlighting the 360-degree turnaround the state’s made in 365 days.
On May 28, 2020, Kemp stood in one of his COVID press briefings, urging Georgians to stay away from crowds during weekend festivities and reminding businesses that could face a fine or warning.
"If we have large crowds that are out of control, we'll take stronger actions than that," he said at the time.
Kemp had just signed an executive order, increasing the number of gatherings in the state from 10 to 25. Bar and nightclubs were just given permission to reopen if they followed 39 mandatory restrictions. Restaurants could increase capacity slightly and amateur sports, as well as summer classes, could return.
Now, on Memorial Day 2021, about one-third of the state is vaccinated. Although Georgia is still at the bottom for vaccinations in the country, worrying some health officials.
“As more mutations develop they have the possibility of overcoming the population that has been vaccinated," said Dr. Jayne Morgan.
Still, Kemp moved to lift all COVID restrictions in the state, telling Fox News, "I think the time for mandates is over."
The only places with a few restrictions remaining are nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and schools.
On Kemp wanting to end mask mandates in schools, the language in his new order doesn’t outright ban masks in schools
Instead, the order reads local school districts can no longer "rely on the Public Hath State of Emergency as a basis for requiring students or Workers to wear a face-covering while present on school district campuses."
Meaning, school districts could still implement masks, they just can’t say the government required them to do so.
Kemp’s stance as he told 11Alive in a press release, is that Georgia is doing well enough to get rid of government mandates.
Of course, local businesses and organizations can do whatever they want as it relates to how restrictive they want to be.
Health officials do warn about more variants and continue to urge people to get a COVID shot.