Faith leaders call on Kemp not to reopen businesses right now

A bicycle rider pedals past the Master Groom Barber Salon in the 300 block of Decatur Street on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Gov. Brian Kemp has defended rolling back restrictions on small businesses such as barber shops and hair salons despite federal health officials and many mayors of Georgia cities warning that it is too soon to relax measures meant to quell the coronavirus pandemic. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
A bicycle rider pedals past the Master Groom Barber Salon in the 300 block of Decatur Street on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Gov. Brian Kemp has defended rolling back restrictions on small businesses such as barber shops and hair salons despite federal health officials and many mayors of Georgia cities warning that it is too soon to relax measures meant to quell the coronavirus pandemic. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta will hold a press conference Friday at the Georgia Capitol calling for Gov. Brian Kemp to rescind his order to reopen some Georgia businesses.

The event, during which organizers say they will practice social distancing, will be held at 10 a.m. at Liberty Plaza.

Public health experts have warned that Kemp’s move could lead to a spike in new infections. Kemp has said the businesses would have guidelines to follow.

President Trump, who has been pushing for states to open for business, now says Kemp’s plan is “too soon.”

RelatedWill places of worship go back to in-person services?

A few hours after the press conference a “Reopen GA” rally in support of reopening the state’s businesses is scheduled for noon also at the Capitol.

Still, other groups have voiced their concerns about the reopening as well.

The presidents of 11 Georgia chapters of the NAACP have called on Kemp to withdraw his order to reopen the state. And several mayors — including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — are troubled about the timing of the reopening.

“I have a lot of big concerns,” said Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta Branch of the NAACP, who plans to attend the press conference.

MoreWhen a pandemic changes the way people mourn

“We’re in a pandemic that we have not seen in 100 years of America, so nothing is of the ordinary,” he said. “We must rely on the infectious disease experts.”

Rose is calling for more testing and greater accessibility to sites for those who may not have transportation. He suggested having testing sites near public transportation and across the metro area.

“Georgia has missed the boat in so many instances, including not expanding Medicaid,” he said.