Last week, President Trump drew criticism for tweets calling for states to be liberated, for “encouraging” demonstrations supporting reopening states’ economies for business.
After saying on April 13 that the President has the ultimate authority for opening the country back up, on last Thursday, Trump apparently reversed course and announced that the decision to reopen would be left to the governors in each state.
This week, one Governor after another, notably Brian Kemp in Georgia and others, including Bill Lee in Tennessee, Henry McMaster in South Carolina and Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma announced that they would be easing restrictions in their states and allowing some businesses to reopen.
Predictably, the actions by these governors have drawn both a chorus of praise and a firestorm of criticism.
Since Kemp was first, let’s take a look at what will happen in Georgia beginning on Friday and continuing into next week. In his daily briefing on Tuesday, Kemp said
“Given the favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our healthcare professionals, we will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists to reopen their doors this Friday, April 24, 2020.”
“The next point is an important one. The entities that I am reopening are not reopening for ‘business as usual.’ Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions, including adherence to Minimum Basic Operations, social distancing, and regular sanitation. Minimum Basic Operations includes, but is not limited to, screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, enhancing workplace sanitation, wearing masks and gloves if appropriate, separating workspaces by at least six feet, teleworking where at all possible, and implementing staggered shifts.”
“Subject to specific social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27. We will release more information in the next few days. Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides, and live performance venues will remain closed.”
If you look closely, Kemp stated that he was acting on “favorable data” and “with the approval of healthcare professionals,” both of which have been touted by pundits as necessary requirements to begin to return to some degree of normalcy.
Since the announcement, Kemp has attracted scathing criticism from media and mayors and others from around Georgia and across the nation. However, on Wednesday, his decision was one of the topics for discussion in the President’s daily Coronavirus briefing.
Trump said that he “disagreed strongly with [Kemp’s] decision to open certain facilities.” After his #Liberate tweets last week and the Administration’s apparent determination to leave the decision to reopen to the individual states and their governors, Trump’s statement today may have come as somewhat of a surprise to some.
On the one hand, Governor Kemp is out on a limb, but someone had to be first, and other states are also loosening restrictions. On the other hand, what if Kemp turns out to be right?