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Officials: follow guidelines on Memorial Day

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • May. 22, 2020 - 5:46 PM

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Gov. Brian Kemp and state officials urged Georgians to follow social distancing during the Memorial Day weekend at this week’s press briefing on COVID-19.

This year, “Memorial Day will be even more powerful as we find inspiration from our fallen soldiers,” Kemp said. “We need their courage and commitment — now more than ever.”

Following social distancing and other guidelines and wearing masks can be inconvenient at times, Kemp said. But “these protective measures are really paying off.”

Kemp said he is proud of what the state has accomplished with ramped up testing and reopening, but “we can’t rest on our laurels.”

“We need to further expand access to testing, and we need to encourage Georgians to make it a priority,” he said.

Col. Gary Vowell of the Georgia Department of Public Safety said law enforcement will be looking out for large gatherings and making sure individuals and businesses are following the existing rules and guidelines related to COVID-19.

“DPS expects everyone to adhere to the executive order,” Vowell said. “While it is our mandate to enforce violations of the order, it should never be necessary. Businesses and restaurant owners are expected to keep patrons in compliance with the order indoors and outdoors.”

Visitors to the state’s parks, beaches and lakes are expected to follow the rules and guidelines outlined by the Department of Natural Resources, Vowell said.

Groups should be no more than 10 people, and people should be 6 feet apart, said DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. Those who observe people not following social distancing guidelines are asked to call the ranger hotline at 800-241-4113. The hotline is also for emergencies when a ranger is needed and for environmental emergencies.

If you’re on the water, it’s critically important to follow safety rules, including life jackets for all children under 13. The DNR’s law enforcement division will have 85 percent of its statewide force on waterways and beaches, Williams said, and game wardens will have an increased presence at certain heavily used parks.

State park playgrounds, pools and splash pads remain closed, Williams said. And if state parks have so many visitors that social distancing can’t be maintained, park staff “can and will temporarily suspend day-use admission until enough guests exit the property,” he said.