President Donald Trump said during an April 22 coronavirus briefing that he “strongly” disagrees with Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to start reopen businesses on Friday.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree – strongly – with his decision to open certain facilities, which is violation of the phase one guidelines,” Trump said. “He must do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he’s doing. If I see something totally egregious or totally out of line, I’ll do [something].
Trump said opening spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors and barber shops in phase one of reopening the economy “is just too soon.”
Kemp responded with a brief statement on his official Twitter account. “Earlier today, I discussed Georgia’s plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with [Trump],” Kemp wrote. “I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward. Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives — and livelihoods — of all Georgians.
“Just like the thousands of businesses currently operating throughout Georgia, I am confident that business owners who decide to reopen will adhere to Minimum Basic Operations, which prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers,” Kemp concluded.
Kemp announced April 20 that gyms, nail shops, beauty salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and bowling alleys would be allowed to open on April 24 and restaurant dining rooms, private social clubs and movie theaters on April 27.
Kemp’s surprise order sparked confusion on a number of fronts, including what type of restrictions businesses would operate under and how reopening aligns with a shelter-in-place order that runs through April 30. The safety and financial risks of reopening under the order are already being questioned by several owners of local restaurants as well as bowling alley and movie theater operators. Mayors of local cities have had varying reactions, but all say they are seeking more details.
Georgia’s death toll stands at 846, according to the evening report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, with 21,102 confirmed cases. That’s an increase of nearly 1,000 new cases in 24 hours as testing has ramped up in the state.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos del Rio from the Emory University School of Medicine said in a CNN interview on April 22 that one new model suggested that Georgia needed to wait until mid-June to begin reopening businesses.
–John Ruch contributed