Some businesses in Georgia began reopening on Friday in accordance with Governor Brian Kemp's controversial decision to ease the state's stay-at-home order. The announcement of Kemp's plans for "reviving a healthy Georgia" on Monday was met with disapproval from some residents and state officials, as well as President Trump.
"I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with is decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people in Georgia," Mr. Trump said at a coronavirus task force briefing on Wednesday.
The Associated Press, however, reports that the president and Vice President Mike Pence privately supported Kemp's decision. According to two administration officials who spoke to AP, Trump and Pence gave the governor the green light before he publicly announced his plan.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on CBSN on Wednesday that she was not told of the governor's plans to reopen the state ahead of his announcement. Bottoms has strongly criticized the decision, warning that it would be .
"It concerns me deeply that we are still seeing an upward trend in our state and we are rushing to reopen businesses," she said on CBSN.
Infections and deaths from the coronavirus are still on the rise in Georgia. White House guidelines don't recommend easing stay-at-home orders until cases in a community have declined for 14 days.
As of Friday, there are 22,147 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Georgia, 4,221 are hospitalized from the disease and 892 people have died, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. "What I've said is I hope the governor is right and I'm wrong, because if he's wrong more people will die," Bottoms said.
Kemp's plan allows gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen as long as owners follow social-distancing and hygiene requirements. Elective medical procedures can also resume. By Monday, movie theaters may resume selling tickets, and restaurants that had been limited to takeout orders could return to limited dine-in service.
As part of the state's reopening safety guidelines, cosmetology workers are required to wear personal protective equipment and can consider providing masks and other PPE to clients. They are also being told to disinfect or dispose of items and wash hands between clients. Bottoms called the guidelines "ridiculous," saying she's "never seen anyone receive a haircut from someone who stood six feet away from them."
After signing theThursday, Kemp wrote on Twitter that he knows "hardworking Georgians will prioritize the safety of their employees and customers." And, despite publicly losing support from the president, the governor praised the White House.
"For weeks now, my team has worked closely with the Trump Administration and our federal counterparts to mitigate the impact of #coronavirus in Georgia," he wrote. "Our decisions and direction are informed by data and public health recommendations. We remain focused on protecting the lives — and livelihoods — of all Georgians."