Georgia Governor Says State's Movie Theaters Can Start to Reopen on April 27

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

It's unclear, however, how quickly movie theaters will flip on the lights if there are still strict social distancing requirements in place.

Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced an aggressive reopening plan for his state that would allow cinemas to begin reopening early next week.

However, it may prove impossible for cinemas to flip on the lights if there are strict social distancing measures in place due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. A blueprint put forth by the White House last week states that during Phase One, gatherings of 10 or more people would still be prohibited, an impossible restriction for a cinema.

A jurisdiction can begin to reopen if it meets certain criteria regarding the number of COVID-19 cases, according to the White House plan. It isn't clear whether Georgia has fulfilled those requirements.

Kemp nevertheless announced that gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors are among establishments that may reopen on Friday, as long as owners follow strict social distancing and hygiene requirements.

By April 27, he said movie theaters may resume selling tickets and restaurants now limited to takeout orders can go back to limited dine-in service.

"In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus’s spread, today we’re announcing plans to incrementally and safely reopen sectors of our economy." Gov. Kemp said. "If we continue on the path we are headed down, we will totally destroy not only the U.S. economy, but also the world economy."

Heath officials say the state's death toll from COVID-19 has risen above 700. There have been at least 733 deaths statewide have been linked to the virus, while infections have been confirmed in nearly 19,000 people.

If Georgia theaters follow the White House plan, businesses would have to operate under the Phase One guidelines for the time being. During Phase Two, cinemas would have to use "moderate" social distancing practices.

Many in Hollywood and the exhibition business are hopeful that most theaters will be up and operating by mid-July when Christopher Nolan's Tenet is set to bow.

Associated Press information contributed to this report.