Georgia’s governor came under heavy fire for easing lockdown restrictions and allowing some businesses to reopen on April 24. But state data continues to show steady drops in both new confirmed cases of the CCP virus, and in seven-day moving averages.
As businesses adjust, some owners told The Epoch Times they fully agreed with the actions made by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Kemp based his decision to re-ignite the economy on “favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our health care professionals.” He allowed a multitude of sectors to open up their doors nearly three weeks ago.
In April, virus cases peaked on April 20 with 927 confirmed cases in one day. By contrast, 258 new cases of the virus were confirmed on May 11, according to preliminary data from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The seven-day moving average for April 20 meanwhile was 749. For May 11, it was 368.4.
Under Kemp’s orders, “gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists” could fully reopen on April 24.
Theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services were also permitted to open on April 27, “subject to specific social distancing and sanitation mandates,” according to Kemp.
Overall, Georgia has seen 35,332 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,505 deaths, as of this writing. At the same time, tests for the virus have continued to ramp up, with 251,290 conducted so far.
The Epoch Times reached out to the governor’s office for comment but didn’t hear back by press time.
‘Ready to Reopen’
Some business owners in the state said they’re looking forward to life returning more and more to how it usually is.
Nancy Goodrich, restaurant owner of Southern Bistro located in Sandy Springs, said everything has been a learning experience, as she described adjusting to closing their doors and providing to-go services, to now having to relearn how to open their business again.
“I’m ready to reopen. I’m ready to get on with my life,” she told The Epoch Times. “I’m ready to get things back to normal and get to where everybody feels comfortable going out again.”
Sales have plummeted, and the money they’ve earned is on par with when they just started their business, she said.
But what has kept her afloat has been the support from her Sandy Springs community, with a population of 108,797.
The restaurant just recently opened its patio for customers and will fully reopen on May 18, as Goodrich noted that they have to rearrange the dining room, limit the seatings, and follow other guidelines.
“The only reason I have survived is because the community I’m in has really supported me and given me a lot of love and generous support,” she said. “I’m really lucky in that respect … they really don’t want me to go away.
“That’s a good feeling. We’ve all supported each other up here for 15 years.”
Goodrich said the community supported her by ordering takeout from their restaurant and that they were happy when she opened up her patio. She said they largely agree with the state-wide reopening efforts.
“We just need to get back to where we were [financially],” she said. “I don’t know if we’ll get back to the sales that we were at, but at least better than where we are now.”
Some business owners told The Epoch Times previously that they were forced to defy lockdown measures in their state, citing their abysmal financial situations.
Rich Clark, co-owner of C&S Restaurant Group, said he fully reopened some of his restaurants’ locations on April 27, the day the governor said dine-in services were permitted. Under his group, Hugo’s Oyster Bar located in Roswell and C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar in Atlanta have reopened.
Clark said he fully shut down the C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar in early March.
“It was catastrophic,” he told The Epoch Times. “The first day, I was pretty depressed about it. I sat here, and I’m like, I’ve worked my whole life for this company and is it gone now? But it’s not. It’s different. We’re gonna be viable.”
On Kemp’s decision to reopen the economy, Clark said he stands “behind it 100 percent,” adding that he’s happy to be back working again.
“I don’t have a doctorate in public health,” he said. “I trust the people that do, and they’re saying OK, this is what we’re going to do.”
Clark acknowledged there are two different schools of thought when it comes to reopening or not. He described how he faced criticism on his Facebook account after announcing he was going to reopen, adding that he later took down his post.
Ultimately, he said the decision lies with himself.
“I’m not going to be bullied or ashamed into not opening—that’s not going to happen,” he said.
The response from those who showed up in person to support his restaurant over the past few weeks has been overwhelmingly positive, Clark said.
“The guests have been so grateful to come in and the gratuities, how much money that they’re giving the bartenders and the servers has just been really nice,” he said. “People seem to be in a good mood, but there is still a lot of apprehension to come out.”
Those in the local community who showed up to eat have profusely expressed their gratitude to the restaurant for opening its doors. Clark said he wanted to thank them instead for spending their money. Many customers just want to go out and “get away from this thing for a minute,” he said.
Clark said he is fully following all state guidelines in opening the restaurant, adding that they have to pay attention to the safety measures. For the past few weeks, the restaurant has seen a 25 to 30 percent decrease in revenue, he said.
He said their company only had a handful of people who didn’t feel like coming back to work, adding that he completely understood their sentiments.
“Back in the ’80s, we thought it was going to be a time of war, but now it’s this,” he said. “We’re going to have to learn how to work because it [the virus] is not going anywhere anytime soon.”