- While Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp plans to reopen the state’s economy on Friday, several residents told Business Insider they still plan to practice social distancing.
- They’re worried that the lift could mean Georgia ends up paying a price later on.
- President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he disagreed with Kemp’s decision to reopen so soon.
- However, a source told CNN that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence actually praised the governor’s decision the day prior.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced on Monday plans to reopen the state as early as the end of this week.
Kemp said gyms, bowling alleys, barbershops, tattoo parlors, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses, could reopen starting Friday. Movie theaters and restaurants can reopen on Monday.
“We must find ways to revitalize communities devastated by COVID-19,” Kemp said when he announced the lift. “We must identify opportunities for economic growth and prosperity.”
The lift of the lockdown was met with backlash, and health experts have warned that reopening too quickly without proper testing and contact tracing could mean a second wave of infections.
Residents of the state told Business Insider that they’re worried about the longterm impact of the decision to reopen as early as Friday.
“I’m more concerned that because we lifted everything before everyone, we may have to pay for it in the long run,” Spoorthy Bharadwaj, a junior at the University of Georgia and resident in the state, told Business Insider.
Kriti Lodh, a senior at UGA, also told Business Insider that she’s concerned that a second wave of the virus could come sooner in the state and become an ongoing strain on the healthcare system. Lodh explained that while she anticipates that a second wave is very likely anyways, maintaining social distancing could give healthcare workers a small break or less of a burden.
Bharadwaj was skeptical of Kemp’s reasoning for reopening. She felt the governor was simply concerned with politics and not citizens’ health.
“Health comes before politics,” Bharadwaj said.
Morgan Leach, a resident of Athens, Georgia, told Business Insider that while she was hesitant to take the lockdown extremely seriously at the beginning, she’s now hesitant to go out even if the lockdown is lifted.
Leach explained that as the death toll climbed, and she saw more people wearing masks and learned more about the virus, she began to see the need for the lockdown and to adhere to it.
She’s also concerned about her parents since they’re diabetic and are at higher risk if they contract the virus.
“I don’t think it’s the time to reopen,” Leach said. “I’m probably not going to jump out once it reopens.”
“The selfish part of me wants to go get my hair done and my nails done and for things to go back to normal, but it’s too early to open,” Leach she added.
Despite the state lockdown, both Bharadwaj and Lodh also said they’ll continue to social distance. While Bharadwaj said she’s likely to hang out with no more than two other friends given that they’ve also been socially distancing, Lodh says she has no real incentive to go out.
While she’s not particularly concerned about herself, Lodh explained that she has people in her household who could be at a higher risk of a severe case of the virus. She said she couldn’t imagine passing it on to them or anyone else.
“I can’t live with myself doing that,” Lodh said. “I don’t have a good enough reason to go out.”
Lodh added that while opening the economy may seem like a good idea, she’s worried about what will happen once people start falling sick.
“If people are rapidly getting sick, then what do you do?” Lodh asked. “It’s still going to impact the economy.”
Kemp’s decision to reopen has been met with criticism from officials like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams, Business Insider previously reported.
“I’m perplexed that we have opened up in this way. And again, I can’t stress enough, I work very well with our governor, and I look forward to having a better understanding of what his reasoning is,” Bottoms told Politico. “But as I look at the data and as I talk with our public health officials, I don’t see that it’s based on anything that’s logical.”
Georgia has 120,166 coronavirus positive cases and 818 deaths.
The state’s weekly cases dropped from 6,000 to 5,700 a week but they haven’t maintained a two-week decrease in cases. In the week ending in April 5, 3,800 cases were reported, which means the state is still at its peak.
Experts have been concerned about how some businesses like salons and tattoo parlors could even practice social distancing, and despite the state order, some business owners don’t plan to reopen anytime soon. Leach said she already received an email from a local business that said they don’t plan to reopen just yet.
Jamie Booth, owner of Melange Hair Salon told The Daily Beast, her salon will remain closed.
“I am mortified and appalled he would open us up in the middle of our coronavirus peak,” the veteran hairstylist told The Daily Beast.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he strongly disagreed with Kemp’s decision to reopen some businesses in the state on Friday.
—Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 22, 2020
“I think it’s too soon. And I love the people. I love those people that use all of those things, the spas and beauty parlors and barbershops, and tattoo parlors. I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit, not much, because safety has to predominate. We have to have that. So I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right,” Trump said of the governor’s decision.
However, a source told CNN that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence agreed with Kemps move. The source told CNN that on Tuesday both Trump and Pence “expressed support and praise” for Kemp’s decision to reopen.