(AJC) When he announced the first steps toward reopening a state economy crippled by the pandemic, Gov. Brian Kemp declared his actions to be beyond partisanship:
“I can tell you, I don’t give a damn about politics right now. We’re talking about somebody who has put their whole life into building a business, that has people that they love and work with every single day – working in many of these places.”
But during his press conference on Liberty Plaza outside the state Capitol, no Democrat was on hand to endorse Kemp’s decision. Rather, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan went before cameras to present a united GOP front.
Gyms, barber shops, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys, among other businesses, will be allowed to open their doors as of Friday. Restaurants and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on Monday. All are subject to distancing guidelines.
You’ll recall that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was present for one of Kemp’s task force announcements, in pre-social distancing days. Yet last night and this morning, Bottoms and other Georgia mayors pronounced themselves blindsided by the governor’s decision. Bottoms on ABC News:
“It appears that the governor’s orders supersedes anything that I can do as mayor, but I certainly still have my voice that I can use. And what I’ll continue to ask Atlantans to do is to please stay at home.
“I’m not sure what data the governor is referencing in helping him make this decision. I’ve not spoken with him. I’ve talked with the mayor of the second-most popular city in Georgia, Mayor [Hardie] Davis in Augusta. He’s not spoken with him. So we don’t know what the governor is looking at.
“What I do know is that we have more than 19,000 people who tested positive as of this evening…I’m extremely concerned about the announcement the governor made. I hope that he’s right and I’m wrong, because if he’s wrong, more people will die.”