Georgia House Democrats urged Gov. Brian Kemp to immediately rescind an executive order that will allow some businesses and restaurants forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic to reopen later this week.
The letter sent Tuesday by House Minority Bob Trammell and dozens of Democratic legislators called Kemp’s decision “too much too soon” and warned that reopening close-contact businesses like tattoo parlors and massage therapy centers will make it impossible to maintain social distancing.
“Combined with the state’s well documented struggles with testing capacity, this premature executive order puts Georgians at risk and may very well wind up resulting in more prolonged restrictive measures in the future,” the Democrats said in the letter.
At a press conference Monday, Kemp said he was encouraged by declining emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses, expanded hospital capacity and projections that show Georgia’s peak may be in the rear view. He also said he was concerned about the mounting economic toll of the disease.
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His statewide order bans local governments from enacting stiffer limits, leading some mayors to beg their residents to ignore his directive. The House Democrats called on him to rethink that part of the order to let mayors and county officials “enact more restrictive measures as necessary to protect their communities.”
Kemp’s order allows many of the businesses shuttered earlier this month to reopen on Friday so long as they maintain social distancing and take other precautions. Restaurants can resume in-person dining on Monday if they follow a yet-to-be released list of guidelines.
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Trammell and his allies said Kemp shouldn’t broach the idea until there’s “further increased actual testing capacity” in all 159 counties.
“Making data-based decisions gives us our best path forward. We therefore ask you to wait until we have a documented, consistent 14 day decline in the number of positive confirmed cases before taking the steps that you announced yesterday to relax restrictions that are working to save lives and slow the spread,” they wrote.
Read the letter here: