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Kemp extends COVID-19 restrictions, plans statewide tour to encourage mask use

The state's coronavirus restrictions were set to expire on Wednesday, July 1.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has signed two executive orders to extend the state's COVID-19 restrictions. 

In addition, Gov. Brian Kemp is planning to go on a statewide tour of cities ahead of the July 4 holiday to encourage citizens to wear a mask and heed public health advice.

Kemp's director of communications Candice Broce confirmed to 11Alive that the governor will be traveling this week to Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Savannah and Valdosta to promote mask use. Kemp has been seen in public wearing a mask himself. 

The state has seen an upward surge in new coronavirus cases in recent days. The governor signed an executive order extending the state's Public Health State of Emergency through August 11, 2020.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: Georgia Coronavirus Interactive map

The Public Health State of Emergency allows for enhanced coordination across government agencies and the private sector for procurement of supplies, comprehensive testing and healthcare capacity.

Kemp signed a second executive order which will continue to ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is more than six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, mandates social distancing and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile. 

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest numbers for June 29

The order also indicates that the state Board of Education must provide rules, regulations and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education in accordance with guidance from Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state Department of Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

The second executive order runs through July 15, 2020.

Georgia was one of the first states to reopen its economy, allowing restaurants and personal service businesses to resume operations in late April. 

The governor has gradually allowed other businesses to reopen in phases in the weeks since, eventually ending the state's shelter-in-place order for everyone with the exception of the medically fragile. 

While some states, including Florida and Texas have paused their reopening efforts, Kemp has not shows any signs of similar pauses or additional restrictions, despite increased numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the state.

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Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest numbers for June 28