Gov. Brian Kemp announced in a press conference April 20 that dine-in service at restaurants and theaters statewide—while still adhering to forthcoming state requirements and social distancing guidelines as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—will be permitted once again beginning Monday, April 27. Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, estheticians, nail care artists, cosmetology schools and massage therapists will also be allowed to reopen their businesses statewide starting Friday, April 24. Coronavirus case counts as of noon April 20 totaled 18,947 cases statewide and 733 deaths, with 84,328 tests administered between both state and commercial laboratories, according to Georgia Department of Public Health data.

Local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive than this state order, Kemp said during the press conference, and the statewide shelter-in-place order is still active through 11:59 p.m. on April 30.

"Unlike other businesses, these entities have been unable to manage inventory, deal with payroll and take care of administrative items while we shelter in place," Kemp said. "This measure allows them to undertake baseline operations that most other businesses in the state have maintained since I issued the shelter-in-place order."

Kemp said business will still not be able to resume as usual though. Recommendations and requirements from the state will be announced throughout the week, which will give guidelines for social distancing inside these newly-reopened businesses and other public health parameters for business owners, staff and customers to follow.

"Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions including adherence to the minimum basic operations, social distancing and regular sanitation," Kemp said.

As of press time April 20, bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides and live performance venues will still not be allowed to reopen before the shelter-in-place order expires April 30.

"By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we all have made against COVID-19," Kemp said. "Today's announcement is a small step forward and should be treated as such."

Additionally, Kemp said he acknowledges that an increase in the number of coronavirus cases is possible due to reopening, but he said he believes hospitals and health care professionals statewide will be better prepared for more cases than they were initially.

"I think we're taking the right measured approach at the right time," Kemp said. "When we have more people moving around, we will probably see our cases continue to go up, but we're a lot better prepared for that now than we were a month ago. We have the hospital bed capacity, we have the community knowledge, we have a lot of things in place now—the ramped up testing, the contact tracing—that I believe we'll be able to stay on top of it."