ATLANTA, GA — Gov. Brian Kemp addressed Georgia Monday afternoon during a news conference. Restaurants were able to open as of Monday morning, despite criticism from some. Kemp emphasized that the decision was made after much deliberation.
He said if he hadn’t done so, there would still be people who didn’t agree with him. Kemp said he gave people opportunities “who were on the verge of losing everything.”
It wasn’t a mandate, he stressed, but said if they followed the guidelines and restrictions they could do so.
He said his administration has been working very closely with the White House and that he had another “great” call with the president today.
Kemp referred to data that shows more testing being conducted and more hospital space being created.
“Rest assured, the president and I share a common goal,” he said. “That is to protect both the livelihoods of Georgians as well as the American people.”
On Friday, gyms, hair and nail salons were able to reopen. According to the governor, over the weekend the state received 12 complaints of large gatherings. Police were called to intervene in two cases on Sunday, but no charges were made. He also said that Walmart is partnering with Georgia to provide residents with mobile coronavirus testing in rural parts of Georgia.
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Kemp is urging that Georgia’s medically fragile population continue to shelter in place until May 13.
“This disease has a wicked effect on these folks,” he said.
As to what Georgia will look like when the state’s shelter in place lifts Thursday at midnight, Kemp said he’ll make a decision in the next few days. He said he will remain in contact with the White House, CDC and other officials, as well as looking at the data.
After the Atlanta Hawks said the organization was unwilling to immediately reopen the franchise’s practice facility to players for workouts, the National Basketball Association sent a memo to teams Monday informing them facilities will not begin reopening until May 8, according to ESPN.
The league previously planned to reopen facilities Friday beginning with the Hawks, because of Georgia’s early loosening of stay-at-home orders amid the new coronavirus crisis.
“We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the couple of weeks,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk told ESPN. “If there’s a positive response, we’ll slowly open up. If it’s a negative response, we’ll make sure our staff and players remain healthy.”
Jenna Aronowitz, owner of 1920 Tavern in Roswell, spent weeks training her employees, sanitizing the entire restaurant and buying protective gear so the doors could reopen at her restaurant Monday.
“Our sales dropped to a never-before low, as we are not known for takeout and are not affiliated with Uber Eats or any of the other food delivery services,” she told Patch. “This caused us to have zero income to pay our bills or staff. We used our savings to pay all our staff in full so that they didn’t have to suffer through this.”
Over the weekend, Georgia tallied more than 1,000 new cases confirmed of the coronavirus, and 38 more deaths.
As of Monday at noon, there have been 23,773 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 4,433 hospitalized and 942 deaths, the Georgia Department of Public Health released in its daily report. Since Saturday at noon, that is an increase of 1,078 new cases, 107 hospitalized and 38 deaths. Deaths comprise nearly 4 percent of confirmed cases in Georgia.