Georgia is reopening hair salons, gyms and bowling alleys despite a rise in coronavirus deaths statewide – CNN, CNN

Georgia is reopening hair salons, gyms and bowling alleys despite a rise in coronavirus deaths statewide – CNN, CNN

(CNN) Undeterred by a barrage of criticism, Georgia state officials moved ahead Friday with plans to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen, even as coronavirus deaths increase statewide.

Gov. Brian Kemp was one of the last state leaders to issue a stay-at-home order , effective April 3, to combat the spread of Covid – .

This week, the first-term Republican became one of the nation’s first governors to ease those restrictions after he allowed businesses such as gyms, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to reopen.

His decision has pit him against mayors from cities including Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, as well as advice rooted in a data model often cited by the White House.

Georgia should not even begin to reopen until June , according to the model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which assumes states will implement aggressive testing, contact tracing, isolation and crowd-size limits to prevent more infections.

Georgia offers drive-thru testing and has asked state health officials to test all symptomatic people, the governor has said.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has called Kemp’s decision perplexing for a state battling a virus that’s killed nearly (residents and sickened about , others. Nationwide, the death toll is approaching 109, , according to the Johns Hopkins University.

“When I look at the data, I see our (state Covid) numbers are going up, “Bottoms said Tuesday, after Kemp revealed his plan. “I have searched my head and my heart on this, and I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on.”

Business owners conflicted over reopening

As Georgia hums back to life weeks after coronavirus emptied streets, some

small business owners are struggling to figure out what’s best.

Sabra Dupree is apprehensive as she reopens her family hair salon in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, she said. But she’s doing it to help some of her stylists who’re not receiving unemployment.

The salon has taken extra precautions by minimizing staff and appointments, and moving around workstations, she said. Staff and clients will wear masks at all times and sanitize regularly.

Sabrina Watkins, who runs a hair salon in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, said at least 17 clients have called to find out if they can get their hair styled Friday. But she has no plans to return to work any time soon.

“I said, ‘No, absolutely not. Get your hair done for what?” “Watkins said. “There’s a pandemic, people are dying. As much as I love the business, now is not the time, regardless of who says it is.” Before the outbreak, Watkins saw about clients daily at the work space she shares with five stylists – an arrangement she said raises the risk of exposure, she said. Some of her clients are elderly and more vulnerable to infections.

“None of us are being tested; how do we track who’s carrying it, who is giving it to whom? I don’t want to take part in spreading the disease and risking their lives, “she said. “Staying home gives us a greater chance until the numbers go down as far as infections and the death toll.”

Businesses that reopen must follow social distancing guidelines, maintain sanitation and screen their employees for symptoms such as fever and respiratory illness, Kemp said. Theaters and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen Monday – even with a statewide shelter-in-place order that expires at the end of the month.

Bottoms said Maintaining social distances in some of the reopened businesses won’t be easy.

“How do you get a haircut and stay a safe distance from someone cutting your bangs?” she asked.

The Head of the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers applauded the governor’s move.

“We have , licensees under our board, most of whom are independent contractors that have no other source of income, “Kay Kendrick said.

This is where all 50 states stand on reopening Experts and the President criticize Kemp’s move

Health experts have criticized the move to reopen Georgia, saying it’s too soon and risks setting off another wave of infections. This is where all 50 states stand on reopening

President Donald Trump at first applauded Kemp for his aggressive plan to restart the economy, a source told CNN, then publicly bashed him during news briefings.

I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities, “Trump said. “But, at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right.”

Georgia is home to one of the nation’s largest cities and the location of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world’s busiest airport.

The state’s decision to reopen also has set off a wave of controversy nationwide. Bottoms said she received a racist text message after she voiced her reservations, though it won’t deter her.

Other Southern states follow similar steps

Neighboring states are also starting to take steps toward reopening . In South Carolina, GOP Gov. Henry McMaster announced some stores can reopen at 22% capacity along with beaches.

That state shouldn’t reopen until June 8 at the soonest, the (health institute’s modeling) indicates.

Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia has accused McMaster of using “arbitrary dates” instead of data to decide.

“We need more testing. We need more data, and then we can decide how we go back into business,” Benjamin said.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the governor’s reopening plan was “a measured response” that took safety and social distancing into account. “It’s not like he opened the barn door and everything flies out,” Tecklenburg said.

CNN’s Alta Spells, Nicole Chavez and Eric Levenson contributed to this report

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