Following President Donald Trump’s vow to “Open Up America Again,” Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp has announced plans to re-open movie theaters and restaurants as soon as April 27. His decision joins other southern Republican governors (Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi) who are moving toward re-opening their states after almost 40 days of lockdown due to the global coronavirus crisis.
Kemp held a news conference Monday afternoon giving an overarching view of his new orders for the state, which included opening a number of leisure businesses − nail salons, gyms, barber shops and tattoo parlors − by Friday. Other businesses including restaurants and movie theaters can start next week, with all the openings pending on several social distancing and cleaning rules set up by the governor’s Coronavirus Task Force.
“By taking this measured action,“ Kemp said, “we will get Georgians back to work safely, without undermining the progress we all have made in this battle against COVID-19.”
Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides and live performance venues will remain closed along with schools which will continue to focus on social distance learning. “I will not be going back on that decision” added Kemp about the closing of schools.
Variety, the source, notes that bigger theater chains are unlikely to be able to re-open as soon as the end of this month as they’ve furloughed employees. They will have to rehire them, screen them for the virus, and train them in new health and safety procedures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s also concern among theater chains that they could be sued if someone contracts the virus on one of their properties, and the lack of new content leaves them with nothing to show.
Within hours of the announcement, several state mayors, public health experts and national politicians voiced concern about the urgency of the reopening of nonessential businesses in Georgia. The state has nearly 20,000 cases of COVID-19, and almost 800 people have died in Georgia due to the virus. The governor quoted some recent data that showed Georgia as possibly moving past its peak for cases as a reason to move forward with the reopening.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham supported South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s plan of reopening his state but found issue with Georgia’s plan. “I worry that our friends and neighbors in Georgia are going too fast too soon,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
One doctor had a response to the Governor’s decision that went viral on Instagram:
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