A look at major coronavirus developments over the past week

Barber shops, hair salons, gyms and other businesses that were ordered closed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month were allowed to reopen on Friday, even as public health experts warned he was all but inviting a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Kemp described it as a “measured” approach to balancing economic and public health concern, though his decision was criticized by President Donald Trump.

Business owners have had mixed reactions to the decision. Meanwhile, claims for unemployment benefits soared, the state Labor Department announced this week.

Here’s a look at major developments over the past week in Georgia related to the coronavirus.

Kemp allows businesses to reopens

Kemp’s order allowed gyms, barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys and other businesses to open their doors.

The businesses will have to take steps to minimize the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, including screening workers for fever and respiratory illnesses.

The governor urged Georgians, especially the elderly and medically fragile, to stay home as much as possible. He said people need to limit errands and other travel, frequently wash their hands and cover their faces in public. He also said the state is increasing its ability to test for the virus and has made sure hospitals can handle a surge in patients.

Kemp also announced that theaters and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Monday.

Kemp was among the last of the nation’s governors to impose statewide social-distancing measures, and now is among the first to begin lifting them.

Thursday, Trump took aim at Kemp for allowing businesses like tattoo parlors and hair salons to reopen while the virus is still taking a heavy toll on the state. Trump said Kemp was not following federal guidelines for phasing in business operations.

“I want the states to open, much more than he does,” Trump said. “But I didn’t like to see spas at this early stage. I didn’t like to see spas opening, frankly, and I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening. I wasn’t happy with it. And I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy.”

MORE: What you need to know about the coronavirus in Georgia

Some businesses open, some don’t

Friday, some haircut shops, gyms and other businesses opened, while others decided to remain closed.

At Studio 151 in Dallas, the first appointment was at 6:30 a.m., according to the salon’s owner. A sign on the door spelled out salon protocols — those required by the state and additional measures to keep employees and customers safe.

Owner Stephen Richardson and another stylist had seen a steady stream of eager customers by noon, many saying how grateful they were for the safety measures.

Not all the businesses that can reopen will do so. Many restaurants have decided to continue with take-out and to not yet allow in-house dining. And many gyms — including LA Fitness, Planet Fitness and local YMCA branches — are staying closed.

MORE: Behind the data: breaking down the statistical models of COVID-19

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Jobless claims now include more than one-fifth of Georgia workers

Nearly a quarter of a million more Georgians filed jobless claims for the week ending Saturday, April 18, the state Department of Labor said Thursday.

That brings the total number of workers in the state who have filed for unemployment benefits to about 1.1 million over the past month, more than 1 in 5 Georgia workers.

The number of claims filed in the state last week was less than the week before, when 319,581 claims were processed.

Nationally, 4.4 million unemployment claims were filed last week, compared to 6.6 million the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In Georgia, nearly 68,000 claims were filed from the hospitality sector last week, according to Mark Butler, Georgia’s labor commissioner.

But it was far from the only industry affected. Health care also has had significant layoffs, as dental appointments and non-emergency medical appointments are delayed. And many workers in retail and manufacturing are out of work.

Credit: Cindy Ord

Credit: Cindy Ord

A show of support for health-care workers

Communities across Atlanta are celebrating front-line workers by posting signs and cheering them on as they finish their shifts.

Law enforcement officers from “every agency in Gwinnett County” convened outside Northside Hospital Gwinnett to hold a parade for health-care workers, the Lawrenceville Police Department said in a tweet.

The parade took place exactly six weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, a pandemic.

In a video released by the department, dozens of marked police vehicles can be seen driving through the hospital lot, blue lights flashing. Clusters of people, many health care workers still dressed in scrubs and white coats, were lined up nearby.

Staff writers Alan Judd, Michael E. Kanell, Greg Bluestein, Asia Simone Burns and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.