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Georgia beaches reopen after governor's executive order

The Hill logo The Hill 4/4/2020 Kaelan Deese
a sandy beach next to the ocean: Georgia beaches reopen after governor's executive order © Getty Georgia beaches reopen after governor's executive order

Some Georgia beaches will reopen this weekend following an executive order issued by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that overrode local shelter-in-place mandates from a number of cities.

A spokesperson for Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the order would allow popular beaches in Georgia, such as Tybee Island, to reopen after they had closed because of local measures aimed at limiting the community spread of COVID-19.

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"The Governor's Executive Order suspends the enforcement of any local ordinance or order adopted or issued since March 1, 2020, that relates to COVID-19," said Josh Hildebrandt, director of public and governmental affairs for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"This Executive Order thus lifted any local ordinances or orders that had closed or restricted access to Georgia beaches," superseding local government blocks and opening all beaches in Georgia, Hildebrandt added.

The order went into effect Friday night at 6 p.m. It allows for people to exercise outside as long as they maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other individuals.

Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions previously ordered beaches in the area to be closed and was alerted to the new ordinance Friday.

State Rep. Jesse Petrea (R) wrote on Facebook that he had notified the mayor of the changes earlier Friday and said the beach would not be "expressly closed" under the governor's new order but emphasized that "NO congregating" would be enforced by DNR rangers.

While Georgia beaches will remain open during the statewide shelter-in-place ordinance, the public will not be allowed to place chairs, tents or umbrellas on beaches until the order is lifted after April 13.

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