Georgia’s governor announced Monday that he plans to allow the state’s restaurant dining rooms to reopen at the beginning of next week.
In addition to dining rooms, movie theaters and private social clubs will also be allowed to open next Monday. Bars, nightclubs and live performance venues must stay shuttered.
Georgia becomes the first state to loosen its restaurant restrictions after dining rooms around the country were closed more than a month ago to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restaurants will not be able to return to “business as usual,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at an afternoon press conference. They’ll have to follow strict sanitation and social distancing rules, which will be further detailed in the coming days, he said.
The state of Georgia remains under a stay-at-home order until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
“In the days ahead, we will be evaluating the data and conferring with public health officials for the best course of action for those establishments,” Kemp said.
Georgia will also reopen fitness centers, barbers, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and more beginning this Friday.
“We will get Georgians back to work safely,” he said.
The National Restaurant Association estimates that 297,000 restaurant jobs have been lost in Georgia due to the coronavirus.
Georgia has had nearly 19,000 reported COVID-19 cases and more than 700 deaths from the virus.
President Trump has urged states to reopen businesses as soon as possible, while other state governments and health officials have pushed back, arguing that it is not safe while the virus continues to spread.