Local businesses, places of worship remain closed despite Kemp's reopening

| by Elizabeth Nouryeh



Numerous local businesses are remaining closed despite Governor Brian Kemp’s announcement to begin reopening the state starting April 24.

Kemp made the announcement during a press conference April 20.

“We lift up those who are battling this terrible virus,” Kemp said. “We remain focused on the safety and well-being of every person who calls Georgia home.”


Beginning Friday, April 24, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists were allowed to reopen. According to Kemp, the decision was made due to the “favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our healthcare professionals.”

Additionally, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services were allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27, provided they enforce social distancing and follow sanitation mandates.

Despite Kemp’s OK to reopen, many business are announcing they will remain closed until further notice.

Local Roswell restaurants Table and Main and From the Earth Brewing are among those choosing to remain closed.

“As we watched Governor Kemp’s news conference yesterday, we were shocked to hear of businesses being able to open on Friday, following with restaurants on Monday,” From the Earth Brewing owner Tim Stevens wrote in a statement. “Our honest reaction was this is a premature decision being made that will continue to affect and harm our patrons, staff and community.”

Numerous spas are opting to stay closed as well. Woodhouse Spa in Alpharetta says it will not be reopening until there is sufficient inventory of Personal Protective Equipment for employees and guests and “a thorough review and understanding of the sanitation and operational guidelines from Governor Kemp’s office and the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology is completed.”

“At this point in time, we do not feel it would be in the best interest of our guests or team members to reopen on that date,” owner Justin Bachtell said. “We do anticipate a reopening in early May, however a date has not yet been set.”

Thread Beauty Spa in Tucker is also choosing to remain closed. The spa has been closed since March 22 and announced it will remain closed despite Kemp’s approval.

“It is my personal opinion that it is not safe enough for the staff as well as the clients to be close enough to touch,” owner Sanah Sayani said. “We have set a tentative date of May 15 to reopen. The date will be reevaluated when the time comes. The safety and wellbeing of the staff and clients will always be taken into account when reopening.”

Kemp also allowed the opening of churches and other houses of worship, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

However, Bishop Robert C. Wright of the Episcopal Archdiocese of Atlanta announced April 22 that “gatherings at all 117 worshiping locations of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta will remain online until health experts advise that in person worship services and meetings are “reasonably safe.”

“In due course and only when I am advised by health and safety professionals that it is reasonably safe, will I offer the possibility of in person worship for our Diocese,” Wright said. “Until then let us bring imagination to how we care for one another, new power to our proclamation of God’s good news and new effectiveness to how we support those who are oppressed by fear and lack.”

As of 11:30 a.m. April 22, Georgia has a total of 20,740 cases of coronavirus. Almost 4,000 Georgians have been hospitalized and 836 have died. Many health officials have warned that Kemp is reopening the state too soon.

According to a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Georgia should not start relaxing social distancing until after June 15. Per the model, that is when Georgia can begin considering other measures to contain the virus, such as contact tracing and isolation.

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.

When Kemp first announced his plans, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both allegedly called the governor to compliment his move. Now, Trump has announced he “disagrees very strongly” with Kemp’s decision.

“I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barber shops in phase one…is just too soon,” the president said Wednesday.

Georgia’s shelter in place order still active and will expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 30 for most Georgians. Elderly residents and those with underlying medical issues are told to shelter in place until May 13.

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