Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday extending the statewide shelter-in-place order through April 30.
The extension suspends most short-term vacation rentals across the state, a reversal of his initial order.
“This action is one of many steps that we are taking to keep people safe from this dangerous virus,” Kemp said in a briefing at the state capitol.
The Glynn County Commission voted last month to suspend short-term rentals. That action was nullified when Kemp announced his shelter-in-place orders for Georgians April 2.
Kemp’s original shelter-in-place order allowed Georgia’s beaches to reopen and for short-term rentals to continue, despite concerns raised by community leaders.
Kemp was asked during the briefing how he reconciles the competing messaging from local leaders and the state about whether beaches and state parks should remain open. County officials are concerned keeping beaches and state parks open will draw visitors to the state.
“There’s a lot of people that have a lot of opinions about these different orders,” Kemp said. “I know they’re doing exactly what I’m doing. They’re doing the best they can to keep their local communities safe.”
He said the beaches and state parks will remain open as long as people practice the required social distancing. Large groups are not allowed, and items like tents and chairs are banned. These areas are open to provide people the chance to exercise, he said, and spend time outside.
“If something gets out of control, I’ll take action,” he said. “… I want to urge all Georgians to continue to follow the rules and help us with that.”
Bill Brunson, a member of the Glynn County Commission, said he’s delighted the governor listened to the commission’s concerns regarding short-term rentals.
“He’s got a very difficult job, he’s got a lot of diverse counties he’s got to deal with and I know he’s under an enormous amount of pressure,” Brunson said. “Everybody is. I thought that he did the right thing today for our community, putting a ban on these short-term rentals.”
Brunson said he hopes the open beaches will not create further problems.
“I think, as long as he maintains the DNR presence and the state patrol and sheriff on the beaches, I don’t feel like that’s going to be a big issue,” he said. “I hope it isn’t. If it becomes an issue, he’s got the people there to deal with it ... I think the short-term rental decision was a big deal, and I appreciate his ruling on that.”
Kemp also announced new restrictions on senior care facilities.
He signed an executive order requiring these facilities to take more steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on most visitors and requiring in-room dining for residents.
Kemp renewed a public health emergency declaration through May 13 that allows him to continue deploying resources to communities in need. He also activated an additional 1,000 National Guardsmen.
Georgia reported 9,901 coronavirus cases and 362 deaths as of noon Wednesday.
Kemp hasn’t forgotten the significance of the week to Christians, even though most will be celebrating Easter away from church Sunday.
“During this sacred holy week, we must stay united in this fight against the coronavirus,” Kemp said. “I wanted to thank the millions of Georgians who are following the health guidance and continuing to help us truly flatten the curve.”
— Taylor Cooper contributed to this report.