Local Reaction: As Kemp Moves To Reopen, Some Businesses And Churches Hesitate
Even as Gov. Brian Kemp outlined plans to start reopening some of Georgia's economy, not all businesses across Georgia are ready to open their doors.
Barbers, hair stylists, tattoo artists and massage therapists are among those who will be allowed, with some regulations, to go back to work Friday.
Marshall Hughes owns his own barber shop in Macon. He failed to get any of the first round of small business funding from the federal government. He also has a daughter who is a nurse on the frontlines of COVID-19 at Navicent Health in Macon. He said he won’t be opening up his shop any time soon.
"I'm not gonna be used as a guinea pig," Hughes said. "We already have to be hands-on with the customers. We're in close proximity with the customers cutting their hair and talking with them. It's just a set up for failure, from my point of view."
Kemp's order also allows churches to reopen, as long as congregants observe social distancing.
Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Reverend Robert C. Wright said he and other clergy are still in discussion about the right time to reopen churches for worship. He previously canceled all church activities on March 13.
"We are in a perilous time in regard to our battle to defeat the Coronavirus pandemic and any action that we take will be predicated on protecting the safety and health of our Diocesan family,” Wright said. “Our love for each other is our prime directive.”
Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta is also not rushing to reopen. The iconic restaurant and bar wrote in a Facebook post that they still didn't feel like conditions were safe, although they would make a move in the next few days to begin doing to-go orders.
"As much as I would like to be open, it's not happening," the post read. "Being closed has not been fun, but it's been the safest, best thing we could do for our staff and our customers."
An employee at Guston's Bar and Grille in Woodstock, however, said the restaurant would be ready to reopen come Monday, April 27.
Bars like Northside Tavern in Atlanta are still not able to reopen under the governor's new provisions. The bar reiterated that point in a Facebook post on Monday.
The concern about reopening businesses has also raised the ire of mayors around the state.
Albany Mayor Bo Dorough said Kemp’s plan to begin reopening businesses Friday undercuts the ability of local political leaders like him to protect their community. The city has been a global hotspot for COVID-19 in the past several weeks.
As of noon Tuesday, April 21, there have been 19,881 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. Of those, 799 have died.