Good news, Georgians! As of Friday, you’ll be able to hit the gym to work up a sweat, shower up, and then relax with a socially distant massage. On the way home you can hit the salon for a mani-pedi, get your teeth cleaned at the dentist, and then celebrate with a brand new “post”-pandemic tattoo. You’ll have to wait until Monday to grab dinner and movie with a date, though, because restaurants and theaters can’t open until the 27th. But reserve your seats now, because The Peach State is back in business, baby!
Yesterday Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced an Executive Order to reopen the economy in accordance with White House guidance. Well, more or less in accordance, since the president’s plan calls for a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period,” and Georgia, with almost 20,000 confirmed cases, is … not that.
Nevertheless, Kemp announced yesterday that, “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.”
He failed to coordinate with local leaders, blindsiding the mayors of Atlanta and other cities, but Kemp insists that “This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions. This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.” Because if it’s good enough for Taliaferro County, with 8 people per square kilometer, obviously it’s good enough for Gwinnett County, with 2,287 people in the same area.
Lest one be tempted to criticize the governor for taking a cavalier approach to his constituents’ health, please note that he encourages employers to send home workers whose fevers exceed 100.4, “enhanc[e] sanitation of the workplace as appropriate,” provide PPE “as available,” cancel in-person meetings, close the staff break room, and generally maintain six feet of distance between people on the premises. The governor did not specify exactly how he envisioned a socially distant bikini wax might work, but Georgia’s beaches are now open, so take up your ibuprofen and climb up on that table, ya big ape!
Nor did Mr. Kemp specify how he intends to open up non-essential businesses while Georgians have been ordered to shelter in place.
“The shelter in place order is still active and will expire at 11:59 PM on April 30 for most Georgians. We urge everyone to continue to follow CDC and DPH guidance by sheltering in place as often as you can,” said the Governor, in the same breath that he gave businesses the green light to open up to the general public without input from local officials.
With clear and consistent guidelines like this, what could possibly go wrong, right?
Kemp Executive Order April 20, 2020 [Georgia.gov]
Gov. Kemp Updates Georgians on COVID-19 [Georgia.gov]
Elizabeth Dye (@5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.
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