Trump Didn't Like It—But This State Gets to Reopen

Georgia businesses are grappling with the governor's new order
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2020 10:00 AM CDT
Georgia Grapples With Governor's 'Reopen' Order
Barber and owner of Chris Edwards wears a mask and cuts the hair of customer as others wait at Peachtree Battle Barber Shop in Atlanta on Friday, April 24, 2020.   (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia business owners faced a dilemma Friday: to open or not to open? After Gov. Brian Kemp issued the nation's most aggressive order allowing non-essential businesses to reopen, some took advantage. "It's essential. It's like food," a customer tells the Wall Street Journal while waiting outside Candler Nails in suburban South DeKalb, along with 11 other women, mostly in masks. A barber-shop owner in suburban Atlanta also reopened after apparently burning through his savings to keep the shop afloat—and business "hasn't stopped since we opened at 9am," he says. But the Journal sees income disparity playing a role in Atlanta, where affluent neighborhoods were mostly closed and poorer ones had a few "Open" signs.

Another issue, of course, is health. President Trump criticized Kemp's order, saying "I wasn't at all happy," and Georgia resident Wendy Hamilton seems to agree: "It's just not a risk that I'm willing to take," the 45-year-old tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The beauty-salon owner (now homeschool teacher) calls it "insane" for high-touch industries to reopen this soon. Experts across America say lockdowns should only be lifted after case numbers have fallen and testing becomes widespread. But besides the financial hardship, there's a pining for regular life: "I miss living," says a barber-shop customer in Atlanta. "I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss my co-workers." (While criticizing Kemp, Trump is also encouraging protests against stay-at-home orders.)

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