BROOKHAVEN, GA — Despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s announcement that many Georgia businesses can reopen Friday, some officials are hesitant to do so as the state continues to see more coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst shared his concerns and said he was quite surprised by the governor’s decision to let hair and nail salons open Friday, and dine-in restaurant service to resume Monday.
“It seems to be very, very early,” Ernst told WXIA. “Now, we’re coming back very, very early. We could have ‘death by 1,000 cuts’ to our economy.”
Ernst said some Brookhaven business owners have already shared their concerns. He said he received a text message from a local restaurant owner who told the mayor that opening up this soon could potentially hurt the business even more.
Brookhaven became the first Georgia city to order all bars and restaurants to close.
On Monday, the governor spelled out a timeline for reopening many types of businesses — from hair salons to restaurants and movie theaters — as well as churches.
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Beginning Friday, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and their schools, and massage therapists can reopen statewide, following social distancing guidelines.
The businesses that are reopening face restrictions, including social distancing and regular sanitation. Businesses that allow more than 10 people at a single location must require at least a 6-foot distance between people.
President Donald Trump was asked for his thoughts on the decision during the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Tuesday.
“He’s a very capable man. He knows what he’s doing. He’s done a very good job as governor in Georgia,” Trump said, WXIA 11Alive reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for reopening, which was released by Trump’s administration, says that states need to have 14 days of declining new case totals before they can begin easing restrictions.
Kemp said Monday that “favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of health care professionals” indicate it’s safe for Georgia to take these steps. However, the numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed cases of coronavirus are still increasing in the state.
As of noon Wednesday, there have been 836 deaths, 20,740 cases, and 3,959 hospitalizations in Georgia. Deaths make up 4.03 percent of Georgia cases. From the numbers released at noon Tuesday, this is an increase of 859 cases, 180 hospitalizations and 37 deaths.