Experts concerned rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions are too soon

ATLANTA — It’s been a challenging year for both people and businesses as they’ve had to deal with all the restrictions associated with the pandemic.

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Starting Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order removes a 50-person cap on gatherings.

It means restaurants will be able to fill their dining rooms to full capacity. And they can ease up on the spacing between tables. The order also states police can no longer shut down any business for not complying with any of the remaining restrictions.

For business owners across the state, the past year has been mostly about surviving. The owner of Table and Main restaurant in Roswell, Ryan Pernice said his revenue now is down about 50% as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

For him, the new orders are a step in the right direction.

”For me the governor’s order gives us more flexibility as patrons and guests to determine which business meets me where I’m at in my own comfort level,” said Pernice. “It doesn’t mean that we have to go full bore back to seating the way we did in 2019, 2018.”

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Channel 2 Action News reporter Christian Jennings spoke with public health microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke on Saturday. Schmidtke explained why she believes it is still too early to roll back the restrictions.

“What we’re seeing happen in other states, like Michigan and other states in the northeast, is we’re seeing that there are more cases. There are hospitalizations. And the hospitalizations are among younger people now,” said Schmidtke. “We do not have enough people vaccinated yet to really rely on that as our sole mechanism for controlling disease transmission.”

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Schmidtke said she worries about the message the restriction rollbacks send to an already pandemic-fatigued public.

“We are not far away from making a real impact with this vaccine on the pandemic. I mean, if we could have waited three to four more weeks, we could have been in a much safer position,” Schmidtke said.

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