Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) stunned his constituents and drew national concern on Monday after he announced a partial reopening of essential businesses would move forward in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the order hair salons, barbershops, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early Friday, April 24. Theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27, but bars and nightclubs will be barred from reopening for the time being.
The directive goes directly against the urging of medical professionals and public health officials as they work to quell the virus.
In response, city politicians across the state have urged residents to stay home, one of them being Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D). As the mayor of Georgia’s largest city and state capitol where more than half are Black, Bottoms appeared on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time on Monday night to discuss the order and its impact.
Bottoms began by saying that as a mother of four children under the age of 19, she understands the cabin fever running rampant among those of younger generations, but instead wants to ensure that the public’s health is the main priority.
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“I’m perplexed that we have opened up in this way,” Bottoms said.
“And, again, I can’t stress enough, I work very well with our governor, and I look forward to having a better understanding of what this reasoning is, but as I look at the data and as I talk with our public health officials, I don’t see that it’s based on anything that is logical,” Bottoms continued.
She continued, mentioning that Kemp did not consult with her regarding his decision.
“Our governor often defers to local control and I wish that this were an instance that he deferred to local control,” she said. “I don’t know how you get a haircut and keep a safe distance from someone who’s cutting your bangs. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Georgia’s stay-at-home order ends on April 30, with a separate order for those who are elderly or immunocompromised to stay inside until May 13. As of Monday Georgia had 19,398 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 774 deaths.
“You have to live to be able to fight another day, so when we’re talking about this economic pull and getting to recovery if we’re not alive on the other side of it then there won’t be a recovery to be had,” she said.
In a separate interview with ABC News, Bottoms asked Atlanta residents to stay safe by remaining indoors.
A rising group of grassroots activists and organizers are also pointing to other states with conservative leadership such as South Carolina, who are issuing similar directives. Kemp will likely gain favor with Trump, who also argues that the country should reopen while sliding in a xenophobic mantra via executive order, to close the nation’s borders to immigrants.
As COVID-19 deaths continue to disproportionately affect Black communities it’s clear that orders such as Kemp’s bear no concern and speak to capitalism as the highest authority over humanity.
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