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Georgia governor orders bars, night clubs, concert venues to remain closed until end of May

Georgia governor orders bars, night clubs, concert venues to remain closed until end of May
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Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia's GOP lt. governor won't seek reelection amid election backlash Cheney seen as merely first victim of Trump election attacks Three charged in Arbery killing plead not guilty to federal hate crimes MORE (R) on Tuesday ordered bars, night clubs and live concert venues to remain closed through the end of May as leading U.S. health experts issued stark warnings about reopening the country too quickly amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Kemp said during a press conference that keeping bars and night clubs closed for the remainder of the month would “enhance health outcomes” and help those businesses sufficiently prepare to reopen in the "near future," according The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He also announced that he would extend dozens of business safety guidelines that were due to expire on Wednesday. The restrictions include limits on gatherings and requirements for social distancing. 

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But Kemp noted that the state would further relax limits for restaurants that have resumed dine-in services. A new executive order will increase the maximum party size per table from six to 10 people, Kemp said.

In addition, a single classroom at a child care facility will be allowed to host up to 20 children, up from 10 under the previous order. Summer camps will also be allowed to reopen starting on May 14, as long as they comply with a set of health guidelines. 

“We are just in a good place,” Kemp said. “And we want to keep these numbers moving in the right direction.”

Georgia was one of the first states to begin gradually rolling back restrictions put in place at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak. The state's shelter-in-place order expired on April 30, which allowed businesses such as restaurants, gyms and hair salons to reopen under modified conditions. 

Kemp's new announcement came the same day top U.S. health experts spoke during a virtual Senate hearing about the coronavirus response. 

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Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said that the consequences could be "really serious" if states ignored federal guidelines and reopened too early. 

“My concern is that if some areas, city, states or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported roughly 34,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 1,400 deaths from it. A study from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in April found that African Americans are being hospitalized for the virus at a far higher rate than their white counterparts in the state.

Kemp said in late April that the state's move to begin reopening coincided with an increase in testing and hospital capacity. Health experts have repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. must have widespread testing availability and a comprehensive contact tracing program in place to safely reopen.