Gov. Kemp says businesses such as gyms and barbers can restart April 24th despite health experts’ warnings on relaxing rules

Kemp, a Republican, said specifically that fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early Friday, April 24. Theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27 while bars and night clubs will remain closed for now, Kemp added.

Notably, no local ordinance can restrict the openings, which will be implemented statewide.

But that same model predicts that dozens of people will die each day in the coming week. And to limit a resurgence of the virus, the model says that Georgia shouldn’t start relaxing social distancing until after June 15 — when the state can begin considering other measures to contain the virus, such as contact tracing and isolation.

“In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus’ spread, today we’re announcing plans to incrementally and safely reopen sectors of our economy,” Kemp told reporters.

The move comes alongside similar announcements from the Republican governors of South Carolina and Tennessee after President Donald Trump unveiled new guidelines last week meant to help states loosen their social distancing restrictions.

The Democratic governors of Illinois and Louisiana also signaled Monday that different parts of their states could reopen in near future.

“You are going to call your own shots,” Trump had said in a conference call Thursday with governors, according to a person familiar with the conversation. “I’ve gotten to know almost all of you, most of you I’ve known and some very well. You are all very capable people, I think in all cases, very capable people. And you’re going to be calling your shots.”

Citing the White House guidance Monday, Kemp said, “We appreciate their leadership and share in the President’s desire to reopen the economy and get Americans back to work.”

“As a small business person for over thirty years, I know the impact of this pandemic on hardworking Georgians in every zip code and every community,” he continued.

While the incremental reopenings align with the President’s push, public health experts have repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told CNN last month, “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

CNN’s Arman Azad contributed to this report.

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