But some Georgia mayors, barred from issuing their own restrictions, urged residents to ignore the reopenings and stay at home.
Mr. Kemp is not alone among governors in seeking to relax restrictions. South Carolina is pressing ahead with a partial reopening on Tuesday — two weeks after restrictions were put in place — of retail shops that had been deemed “nonessential,” such as sporting goods, book and craft stores. Beaches were also allowed to reopen in the state, which has recorded nearly 4,000 cases and more than 100 deaths.
On Folly Beach, a seven-mile-long barrier island outside Charleston with a single access bridge, Mayor Tim Goodwin was struggling with the implications of the governor’s plan. Like most beach towns in the area, he said, Folly Beach planned to keep its roadblock to nonresidents but open beaches to people who live or work on the island. Mr. Goodwin and mayors of neighboring islands may let in nonresidents, but he said he would base his decision on advice from scientists.
Mr. Goodwin said he and the other mayors recently shared a photo of the fictional Mayor Larry Vaughn from “Jaws,” who faced intense pressure to reopen beaches despite obvious warning signs — with the result that visitors died in the teeth of the shark. “Every time they talk about reopening something here, I hear that theme music from ‘Jaws’ in my head,” Mr. Goodwin said.
The governors of Ohio and Tennessee have also taken early steps toward reopening their states. Mr. Kemp, though, was the target of some of the most ferocious criticism on Tuesday.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, the capital and the site of a recent surge in cases, told ABC News that she would keep asking “people to continue to stay home, follow the science and exercise common sense.”
On CNN, Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. of Augusta, Ga., said that he had been caught off guard by the governor’s decision and questioned the wisdom of it.