South Carolina mayors warn residents ‘don’t go to Georgia’: ‘They don’t have a handle on the virus’
Kim Kaseta waits for her breakfast at the counter of a Waffle House in Atlanta, as Georgia relaxed its coronavirus lockdown restrictions to allow restaurants to provide limited dine-in service Michael Mathes AFP

South Carolina mayors don't want their neighbors to the south traveling to their cities and potentially spreading the coronavirus.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is loosening his state's social distancing guidelines as the pandemic rages, but officials in South Carolina aren't ready to reopen just yet, reported The Daily Beast.

“I'm telling my folks, don't go to Georgia,” said Horney Mitchell, mayor of Gifford, South Carolina. “What I tell them is (to) stay home and stay safe. Do not cross the Georgia line.”

Mitchell doesn't like telling people what to do, but he said the risks are just too great.

“They don’t have a handle on the virus yet, and we are that close to Georgia, some of our folks will travel there and may retract something back this way,” said Mitchell, a Democrat. "So I'm very scared about that.”

Kemp announced last week that businesses -- including gyms, barbers and bowling alleys -- could reopen, and restaurants and theaters can reopen next week, although President Donald Trump and the majority of Georgia residents say he should wait.

“I think it's given people at least the belief that things were back to normal, or soon to be back to normal,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who said that's "absolutely not" the case.

South Carolina -- which has reported more than 5,700 cases, compared with more than 24,700 in Georgia -- is also moving toward reopening, but Republican Gov. Henry McMaster hasn't been quite as aggressive as Kemp.

“It is very scary,” said Francenia Ellis, mayor of Furman, South Carolina. “Because I do believe that we still need to be more cautious about this thing.”