I Live in Georgia—Here’s What Life Is Like Post-Lockdown (So Far)
Here's a look at what's going on in Georgia during the coronavirus pandemic.
As a work at home professional, my life has not changed a whole lot since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Besides, as a citizen of Georgia, I can say that from the beginning the state was never really strict about enforcing sheltering-in-place. Governor Brian Kemp lifted the shelter-in-place order on April 30, at midnight. Georgia is one of the first states to roll back coronavirus restrictions and has received plenty of criticism from other governors in the country as its infection numbers are still rising. So, what does post-lockdown look like in Georgia? Here’s what I have observed.
It’s not the end of shelter-in-place for everyone
When Kemp laid out the exact criteria for those considered too vulnerable to go out in public and who should, therefore, continue to shelter in place, he included those who are 65 years or older, people who are immunocompromised, people who are obese, and more. As I did my weekly grocery pickup, I observed many older Georgians still entering the grocery store as they normally would without masks or another sort of protective gear. My 72-year-old mom still does her weekly shopping, as does my 78-year-old neighbor even though I have offered to place online orders for them—I don’t think they will ever adapt to grocery pick up or delivery.
Mask wearing is about 50 percent
Not everyone is onboard with mask-wearing. From what I have observed, women seem to be more likely to wear them versus men. Even the young man who loaded my groceries at my local Kroger was not wearing a mask. Though Kroger does have a mask policy for its employees, it appears they aren’t heavily enforcing it. Delivery drivers seem to be onboard with donning a mask, but even that’s not consistent. Mask wearing is better than it was at the beginning of April, but that may be because it’s more available now.
Parks are packed
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Many people who were staying at home sought some distraction, so they headed to the public parks to walk or let their kids play on the playground. This, of course, meant that the parks became packed with people. When the official shelter-in-place started on April 3, the closing of the county parks finally kept people at home, though state parks never closed. Once the order was lifted, parks were buzzing again. I took a drive through my local state park last week and it was packed. Many people were hiking on the trails and the picnic shelters were full of people having parties and cookouts—only a few were wearing masks and most people were not social distancing. It’s like the pandemic never happened.
Backyard cookouts are back on
On the way home from my drive to the park, I did pass a few homes that were obviously having a cookout. It was a Sunday afternoon, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Since Georgia’s infections are continuing to rise and the governor’s office highly advises to still hold off on mass gatherings unless you can maintain six feet apart, I found these sights alarming.
Church services are spotty
Church gatherings were given the green light as long as the facility can accommodate the proper social distancing measures. I did see a few church parking lots full of cars but did not see if people were sitting six feet apart inside. I belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and the Archdiocese of Atlanta as well as the Vatican have suspended Mass and have not approved in-person mass as of yet, so my church is only offering Mass online.
Take-out only still reigns
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Restaurants, movie theaters, and other large entertainment venues were also given the green light to reopen as long as they can accommodate proper social distancing measures. So far, I have not seen any major restaurant chain in my area reopen its dining rooms. Take out is still the preferred method and business seems to be booming. I’ve seen the drive-through lines wrap around the buildings and flow into streets.
Grocery pickup dates are better
For the entirety of the shelter in place, grocery pickups and deliveries were booked out at least a week. When I placed my grocery order this week, I was surprised to see that I could schedule the same day pickup. I was allowed to order toilet paper (albeit only one package) when previously you could only purchase it in-store. I am not sure if that’s because supply chains finally caught up or the stores hired more staff. Either way, I will continue to stock up wisely.
Stores are limiting capacity
Most of the stores in my area did enforce limiting the number of customers that are allowed in at one time. Even with the state opened back up, one of the parameters for reopening a business is to provide enough personal space to stand six feet away from another person. The only way for stores to do this is to limit the number of people that come in. I expect this will be the new normal for a while.
School’s out for the year
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Georgia closed schools through the end of the school year when the shelter-in-place order was declared. Schools were initially closed in mid-March with plans to reopen by the end of March. I have noticed an uptick with kids playing in my neighborhood, but not necessarily in stores or out and about in town. My 12- and seven-year-old boys, along with their friends, are learning online at home, and are only hanging out virtually. As far as I can tell, there are no plans to resume school-related activities such as Boy Scouts, band, or sports. The general rule in my area is that if public schools are closed, so are any extracurricular school activities.
Traffic is picking up
The metro Atlanta area is infamous for its horrendous traffic and it was non-existent during the shelter-in-place. It’s not back to pre-pandemic levels, but it’s starting to pick up as some people, if not all, return to work.
Personally, I am in a higher risk population due to my asthma, so I plan to continue sheltering-in-place until there’s a vaccine. As long as the numbers continue to rise in Georgia and I can continue to work-from-home, you won’t see me out and about for a while.
Read on to find out more everyday habits that could (and should) change after coronavirus. For more on this developing situation, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.
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