BREAKING: First Two States Announce Their Re-Opening Dates
Atlanta, GA – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced Monday afternoon that his state was on track, and had met the criteria, to re-open many of its businesses on Friday, and other states are following suit in stages.
Although he stressed that it would not be “business as usual,” Kemp said that gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, tattoo shops, barbers, hair stylists, nail salons, and massage therapists can reopen on April 24, WAGA reported.
The governor said that movie theaters and restaurants would also be allowed to re-open as of April 27 under new restrictions the state would announce later in the week.
He also said that the state was in a place on the curve that would allow hospitals to resume elective surgeries, WAGA reported.
Kemp held a press conference at the state capitol on April 20 to make the announcement with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, House Speaker David Ralston, and officials from the Department of Public Health officials, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and the Georgia National Guard.
The governor said Georgia was "on track to meet the criteria for Phase One” because the state was doing adequate testing, had plenty of hospital capacity, and was contact tracing those who tested positive for the virus, WAGA reported.
He said that in order to open on April 24, the state had partnered with the Georgia Health System to “double down” on testing capacity.
"Testing defines the battlefield and aids our long term strategy," Kemp said.
He said the National Guard would assist GEMA in their efforts to test thousands of residents, WAGA reported.
The governor warned that when businesses re-opened, they should be prepared to comply with certain restrictions that would be put in place to help to continue to flatten the curve in their state.
"By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely, without undermining the progress we all have made in this battle against COVID-19," Kemp said. "Today's announcement is a small step forward and should be treated as such."
He said bars, nightclubs, and amusement parks would stay closed for the foreseeable future, WAGA reported.
"Georgians who are small business owners, those people have good common sense and we're trusting them to use it, but if they abuse it, we will take further action," Kemp warned. "But I believe they can do it as part of this measured approach."
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Monday that his state had begun the re-opening processes to get back to business on April 30 when its stay-at-home order expires, or even sooner, according to a press release posted to the governor’s website.
“Our Economic Recovery Group is working with industry leaders around the clock so that some businesses can open as soon as Monday, April 27,” Lee said. “These businesses will open according to specific guidance that we will provide in accordance with state and national experts in both medicine and business.”
The press release said the state would work directly with the counties that contained major metropolitan areas to plan their re-opening strategies.
“While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” the governor said. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said Monday that his state was on track to re-open some businesses by May 8, but it was a move that was considered only baby steps by most, KDKA reported.
“There is still a statewide stay-at-home order, and that’s going to last until May 8,” Wolf told reporters just hours after thousands of Pennsylvanians descended on the state capitol building to protest.
But he said that as of May 8 he planned to allow online car sales to resume, to re-open state liquor stores for curbside service, and to allow construction to restart, KDKA reported.
“We cannot relax,” Wolf said. “We’re going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, cutting down transmission links while we move toward an opening on May 8.”
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced Monday that many businesses in his state could open effective immediately, NBC News reported.
"I've restored public beach access, allowing locals to use their discretion. I've also allowed some retailers that were previously closed to open, but they must follow strict social distancing measures," McMaster said.
He also re-opened retail businesses such as department stores, clothing stores, and book stores, NBC News reported.