ATLANTA — Georgia will come under the nation's spotlight today, as it begins the process of gradually reopening its economy.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced earlier this week he would start allowing some businesses he had originally closed under a shelter-in-place order to reopen, provided they meet a 20-point list of "Minimum Basic Operations" requirements.
It effectively makes the Peach State the first in the nation to take the leap into the process of restarting public life, after the country has effectively been shut down for weeks to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The decision has put the governor under sharp, sometimes withering criticism, including from President Donald Trump, who after initially signaling an openness to the policy has turned into one of its most visible critics.
"I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening and I wasn’t happy with it, and I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp,” the president said Thursday at the coronavirus task force briefing.
Here's exactly what to expect:
- Not all businesses can reopen today: Some still have to wait until Monday, while others - like bars and night clubs - do not yet have a reopening timetable. The businesses that can open include: Gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, and hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and their respective schools, massage therapists.
- Many businesses that can reopen, aren't going to: We've heard from theater operators, spas, and salons that have all vowed to remain closed today. It's going to be a case by case situation, and different regions of the state will take different approaches, but it at least appears many business owners aren't ready to swing open the doors just yet.
- Businesses that do open, have a long list of rules to follow: Gov. Kemp has defended his decision in part based on the 20-point list of "Minimum Basic Operations" requirements that include rules like screening workers for fever and respiratory illness and separating workspaces by at least six feet. The full list is available below:
- Customers may or may not actually show up: The final part of the equation - people actually going to any of these businesses - seems up in the air. Many local leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, are vocally opposed to reopening and are asking residents to continue to stay at home. Legally, though these local leaders can't do anything that contradicts with Kemp's order to reopen. So if someone wants a haircut, and there's a place willing to give it to them, they can get one. It figures to happen somewhere in the state of Georgia today.
Photos: Georgia businesses reopen during coronavirus pandemic
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