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The Georgia state flag flies.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Brian Kemp signed two executive orders Monday to extend the state's Public Health State of Emergency and current COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Kemp first declared a Public Health State of Emergency on March 13, and the General Assembly approved the declaration March 16. In doing so, lawmakers gave Kemp unprecedented power to combat the coronavirus.

The public health emergency declaration has been extended multiple times, including Monday. It now is in effect through Aug. 11.

"As we continue our fight against COVID-19 in Georgia, it is vital that Georgians continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and practicing social distancing," Kemp said in a statement. "We have made decisions throughout the pandemic to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians by relying on data and the advice of public health officials."

Because of an increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Kemp said he was extending the executive order that included safety requirements and some restrictions through July 15. The order was scheduled to expire Tuesday.

The order requires social distancing, bans gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is 6 feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile.

Regional Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.