In another highly controversial announcement, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp this afternoon announced that restaurant dine-in services can reopen beginning this coming Monday, April 27.
In addition, on this coming Friday, April 24, various services such as hair and nail care, tattoo and body art shops, massage therapists, gyms and fitness centers, and bowling alleys can also reopen.
All the "phased-in" reopening will involve a mandatory amount and degree of social distancing between patrons, which the governor's office promised to be more specific about at a later time.
Bars and nightclubs will remain closed.
In-person church services will specifically be allowed, though the governor urged congregations to also observe social distancing during services.
Kemp specifically said that no local government may introduce measures which are either more or less restrictive than the ones he announced.
This means city governments such as Savannah's will not be able to keep restaurants from re-opening for dine-in service a week from today.
Otherwise, the governor's shelter-in-place order will remain in effect through April 30, Kemp said.
A few minutes after the announcement, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson simply posted on Facebook:
"Premature, Irresponsible, and Dangerous."
Kemp said his plans reflect the White House's plan for "phasing in" the economy during the pandemic.
"Informed by the Coronavirus Task Force and public health officials, 'Opening Up America Again' includes three phases to safely reopen and get folks back to work. To initiate Phase One, a state must meet a series of basic criteria, which can be tailored to reflect specific circumstances for a regional or statewide approach," the governor said.
"For weeks now, our state has taken targeted action to prevent, detect, and address the spread of coronavirus by leveraging data and advice from health officials in the public and private sectors. Thanks to this methodical approach and the millions of Georgians who have worked diligently to slow the spread of coronavirus, we are on track to meet the gating criteria for Phase One."
Kemp also announced that hospitals will be allowed to perform "essential" elective surgery.
"Given the recent changes in modeling as it relates to surge capacity and national supply as the needs of other states diminish and following weeks of discussions with hospital leaders and medical providers, I believe Georgia is positioned to secure the necessary personal protective equipment for healthcare facilities to resume elective surgeries deemed essential."
Kemp made waves earlier this month when he announced that the state's beaches could re-open, also with proper social distancing.
The move prompted a minor revolt, as Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions garnered national attention when she opted to close off access to the beach, even as the state allowed people to recreate on it.