Georgia is one of the first states to reopen its economy since the COVID-19 outbreak. As the number of cases continues to climb, Governor Brian Kemp pushed through with his Georgia reopening plans, which began on Friday, April 24. On Monday, April 27, even more businesses are allowed to open with social distancing guidelines enforced.
“Now, with favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are taking another measured step forward by opening shuttered businesses for limited operations,” Kemp tweeted on Thursday, April 23. “I know these hardworking Georgians will prioritize the safety of their employees and customers.”
He officially announced the reopening of barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, churches, and bowling alleys on Monday, April 20 for the following Friday. Restaurants and movie theaters are allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27.
This decision was not endorsed by many Georgia mayors or health officials.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been very vocal about her stance on the matter. She argued that the governor did not consult enough local leaders like herself when making the decision to reopen the state.
“We are not trending downward,” she stated in an MSNBC interview.
“There’s no science or data that supports opening up our state.”
On Friday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported a total of 22,695 coronavirus cases and 904 deaths in the state. Since then, the number of cases has grown to 23,481 with 4,377 hospitalized and 916 deaths.
Atlanta has major counties with cases in the thousands, including Fulton (2,545), Dekalb (1,800) and Gwinnett (1,504).
While many establishments are planning to open, others are following Mayor Lance Bottoms’ advice and are keeping their doors shuttered until the shelter-in-place order expires on May 13.
“It’s like we’re living in the twilight zone,” said Lance Bottoms.
“We have public health officials, we have scientists, we have experts who are saying this is important in order for us to get through this pandemic and to get to the other side of this crisis, we have to socially distance.”