- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is rolling back coronavirus restrictions despite warnings from federal officials of a “fourth surge” of COVID-19 cases if states continue relaxing precautions.

Kemp signed an executive order on Wednesday that ends a ban on large gatherings, eliminates shelter-in-place requirements and reduces any remaining distance requirements at restaurants, bars, and movie theaters and between people at group fitness classes, according to the governor’s office. The rollback starts on April 8 and runs through April 30.

It comes days after President Joe Biden and the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that too many Americans are prematurely declaring victory against the virus. They appealed for mask requirements and other restrictions to be maintained or restored.

The warnings came even as the country ramped up vaccinations against the virus. Georgia last week made all residents over the age of 16 eligible for the vaccine, and Kemp has said loosening restrictions was a critical step in restoring normalcy and ensuring businesses survive.

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