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Hairdressers, tattoos and controversy: Georgia opens the way to deconfinement

(Atlanta) Satisfied or outraged, the residents of Georgia frankly entered the path of deconfinement on Friday with the opening of non-essential businesses encouraged by the governor. A decision strongly criticized including by Donald Trump, yet in favor of “restarting” quickly the American economy ravaged by the COVID pandemic – 19.

Michael Mathes

France Media Agency

Republican governor Brian Kemp, a fervent supporter of the president, has authorized sports halls, bowling alleys, tattoo shops, hairdressing salons and manicure and beauty salons to reopen in this American state.

They must however respect “basic rules”, such as the sanitary distance and the limitation of the number of customers.

In a small Atlanta mall, Chris Edwards opened his hair salon at 7 a.m. “Yes, I'm happy,” he told AFP under his mask as he shaved an unmasked client.

“I am a small trader. If I don’t cut my hair, I don’t make any money, ”he said, ensuring that he followed all safety guidelines.

His client, a doctor who does not wish to be identified, believes that “it is probably more dangerous to go to the supermarket”.

A little further, a tattoo shop is open, but only works by appointment. “We were impatiently waiting to reopen, but we want to be responsible,” explains the boss, Rob Flat.

Cinemas and restaurants may partially open on Monday, while bars and nightclubs remain closed for the time being, the confinement order having to be lifted on 1 er May in this southeastern state of the country.

Brian Kemp said he had the support of local health authorities and assured, on Thursday, that shops would give “priority to the health and well-being of employees and customers”.

But with more than 21 800 positive cases of coronavirus and more than 880 death due to COVID disease – 19, others castigate an “irresponsible” decision.

“Stupidity kills”

“Some people want to sacrifice lives in the name of the economy and it is unacceptable,” Atlanta Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched on ABC television on Friday.

According to her, Georgia does not respect the criteria presented by the White House to gradually revive the activity of the first world power, which notably provide for a continuous decline in the number of cases and deaths.

PHOTO ADAM MURPHY, AP

“Stupidity kills”, “Believe in science, not Kemp”: in front of the governor's residence in Atlanta, a dozen motorists displaying signs with sometimes flowery slogans expressed their dissatisfaction by honking their horns.

“I'm afraid it will get worse,” said AFP Eden Lio, an artist, waitress and bookbinder. Even though she said she lost her two stable jobs, she wanted to demonstrate.

Because of the deconfinement, a “second wave” of COVID – 16 “is going to kill many more people than anyone can imagine and in the long term, the closings will end up lasting a year or more,” she feared.

Some professionals also believe that it is too early.

Denouncing “an irresponsible decision that is just based on money rather than science”, Randy Adler does not intend to reopen his restaurant Bab’s Midtown on Monday.

Even Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of an economic recovery as quickly as possible, assured Friday on Twitter that he had “never said OK to Governor Brian Kemp for these few businesses not affected by the plan ”

“Spas, beauty salons, tattoo artists and hair salons should wait a bit,” added the Republican president, who planned, before the crisis, to campaign on the health of the economy to get a second term in November.

The new coronavirus made more than 50 000 dead in the United States, the worst official death toll in the world, and caused a serious economic crisis which put unemployed more than 26 million Americans.

According to the White House, 16 States Americans have already unveiled plans to revive their economy. Texas and Vermont have authorized a partial resumption of activities, and South Carolina and Florida have reopened part of the coastline to the public.

But in New York, epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, there is no question of lowering the guard.

“I know everyone is impatient,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday. But if businesses reopen too quickly, “this is what will happen: all the progress made will disappear,” he warned, saying he feared the risk of a “second wave” of contagion.

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