ATLANTA — With the U.S. coronavirus death toll topping 50,000, Georgia, Oklahoma and a handful of other states took the first tentative steps at reopening for business on Friday, despite the disapproval of President Donald Trump and health experts.
Gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors and some other businesses were cleared to open their doors by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who disregarded warnings from public health officials that relaxing restrictions could lead to more infections and deaths.
Georgia has become a flashpoint in the debate over how quickly the country should return to work. While the COVID-19 illness is killing thousands of Americans daily, stay-at-home policies have made millions jobless.
Despite the lost revenues, not all eligible businesses in Georgia jumped at the chance to reopen. Shay Cannon, owner of Liberty Tattoo in Atlanta, said he would reopen in May by appointment only and did not foresee a return to normal until June or later.
“We’re just watching the numbers and doing what seems right to us,” Cannon told Reuters.
The U.S. COVID-19 death toll, the highest in the world, topped 50,000 on Friday, having doubled in 10 days, according to a Reuters tally, and the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 875,000.
Jasmine Maskell, owner of Timeless Tattoo in Atlanta, said she was not opening on Friday but would slowly resume business over the next couple of weeks under strict precautions.