Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp joined several regional and national governors in relaxing statewide orders for social distancing Monday, but many social media responses Tuesday pinpoint Georgia’s reopening of the economy as “too fast” and reckless.
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.
“I believe this measured approach has got us to the time to trust our people and to keep going after and beating this virus, but doing it in a way that’s responsible,” Kemp said Monday.
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.
Across the political aisle, Kemp’s decision has been met with disdain. 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.
Conservative fiscal commentator Jim Cramer also disagreed with Kemp’s timeline.
Democratic darling Stacey Abrams went a step further in her critique of the state’s plan to open doors of thousands of businesses in her interview with “Morning Joe.”
“There’s nothing about this that makes sense,” she said Tuesday.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told CNBC on Tuesday that he was “surprised” by Kemp’s choice to open up businesses such as nail salons, bars and barber shops, which would put residents in close proximity to workers including barbers, estheticians and bartenders.
“I think the things that come later are the things that Georgia opened up first, which surprised me, those things that have very close personal contact,”the Democratic governor said on “Squawk Box” on Tuesday. “Bars, restaurants where you’re closed in, probably even barber shops, nail salons, places where you have close personal contact, there I think we’d have to wait until we have a little more testing and more masks.”
The national response, for the most part, has mocked and condemned the Georgia governor for his new order.
Several Twitter pundits voiced their frustration that the testing in the state has not begun to show the impact of COVID-19, so changes in social distancing should have been postponed until that improvement was made.
A few supporters characterized the criticism as unfair because several state governors made similar changes to their state’s orders Monday.
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