Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) sparked fear and outrage when he announced several high-risk industries would be lifted from lockdown in the state — and local governments would be prohibited from imposing lockdowns of their own.
But there is still one group that can overrule Kemp on whether businesses are ready to open: the businesses themselves. And on CNN Tuesday, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz suggested many businesses may choose to stay closed in defiance of the governor's order.
"You called for a stay-at-home order in your city, even before the statewide order," said anchor Brianna Keilar. "You've been trying to give feedback to the governor. Has Governor Kemp's office given you any return feedback on what you're telling them?"
"I haven't had any advance notice of this order that was announced yesterday, or any of the coming orders that have been described for next week, potentially," said Girtz. "But early on in this, we communicated several times, the governor and I, as I encouraged him to shut some of these high-contact businesses that are now being discussed as potentially opening."
"So what do you do if you have the governor saying, his guidance overrides local jurisdictions?" asked Keilar. "What do you do to keep your residents safe?"
"Right now, I'm going directly to the public, and so I'm speaking to residents of Athens-Clarke County and business owners, and many of them are saying, just as I feel, we're not going to frequent businesses right now because we don't feel safe," said Girtz. "We're not going to return to work. I've had a number of hair salon owners approach me over just the last day, and say, we're not opening our doors back up because we care about our employees and we care about our clients."