Georgia to reopen some businesses, including gyms and salons

Some Georgia businesses, including gyms, hair and nail salons, and bowling alleys, will be allowed to open Friday as the state moves toward reopening its economy. 

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said Monday those businesses will be required to stagger shifts, keep workspaces six feet apart, and screen workers for respiratory illnesses and fevers. Workers may also have to wear masks and gloves when “appropriate.”

Theaters, private social clubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen April 27 and will be required to follow the same rules. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed. The state's shelter-in-place order expires April 30, though older individuals and people with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for serious COVID-19 illness are encouraged to stay home until May 13.

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"By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress we all have made in this battle against COVID-19," Kemp said at a press conference. 

Most states have shuttered nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent an influx of patients from overwhelming the health care system.

The U.S. economy has suffered as a result, but health experts have warned that widespread testing is needed before social distancing guidelines can be relaxed.

Kemp’s announcement follows President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE’s move last week to issue guidelines for states to begin lifting restrictions.

"Georgians that are small-business owners have common sense, and we're trusting them to use it," Kemp said. 

Kemp said he feels comfortable allowing some businesses to open because of "favorable data," enhanced testing and the approval of state health officials. 

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More than 84,000 Georgians have been tested for the coronavirus, which is less than 1 percent of the state's population of 10.6 million.

More than 18,000 people have tested positive, including 726 deaths.

Updated at 5:32 pm.