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Georgia Movie Theaters to Reopen on April 27

Gov. Brian Kemp says that his state is ”on track“ to meet the requirements for Phase 1 of the Trump Administration’s reopening plan

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that his state is ready to implement the first phase of the Trump Administration’s plan to gradually end the coronavirus lockdown and that movie theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open their doors again starting on April 27.

“Subject to the specific social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen” Kemp said. “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.”

Gyms and hair and nail salons will also be allowed to reopen starting on April 24, while live performance venues, sporting events, bars and nightclubs will remain closed. Residents will have the shelter-in-place order lifted on April 30, though social distancing is still strongly advised.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee also announced Monday that some businesses will be able to reopen at the same time, with the majority of them being allowed to reopen on May 1. The state’s shelter-in-place orders will be lifted on April 30. The state government will work with individual counties and their health departments on specific reopening plans.

“While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” said Lee. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

Kemp and Lee’s announcements come less than a week after President Trump unveiled a three-phase plan to reopen businesses and loosen lockdown restrictions. The first phase advises vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and immunocompromised, to continue to shelter in place while general populations should continue social distancing practices and minimize non-essential travel. However, the plan also says that “sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship” can operate under “strict physical distancing protocols.” Elective surgeries can resume and gyms can open if they adhere to “strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols”

Georgia has had nearly 19,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with 733 deaths, but Gov. Kemp claims that cases appear to be declining.

“I will say that, when we have more people moving around we probably will see our cases continue to go up, but we’re a lot better prepared for that than we were a month ago,” he said.

It is not immediately clear how many movie theaters in Georgia will take this opportunity to reopen. Those that do will not have any new, theatrically exclusive films to screen for at least the next three months as Hollywood studios have postponed the release of all major blockbusters through early July. In addition, cinemas are not expected to return to business as usual, as movie theater owners have told TheWrap that cinemas will have to reduce the number of tickets sold for each screening to allow for distance between moviegoers and that all auditoriums and public areas will have to undergo deep cleaning after each screening.

Theater executives have also told TheWrap that it might not be financially feasible for cinemas to reopen in areas under the first phase of Trump’s reopening plan because it still advises individuals to avoid mass gatherings of more than 10 people. The better time for theaters to reopen is expected to be the second phase, when mass gatherings are allowed to include up to 50 people, a limit that would make it easier for theaters to accommodate potential audiences.

The Georgia state office of the National Association of Theater Owners declined to comment at this time but will respond to Kemp’s announcement in a conference call tomorrow.