President Donald Trump said Wednesday he “strongly disagrees” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow businesses like barbershops and nail salons to reopen, a day after he praised him during the White House briefing.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said at his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday. “But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.”
Kemp tweeted after the president’s remarks that he appreciated Trump’s “bold leadership and insight during these difficult times,” but he didn’t back down. “Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians,” Kemp wrote.
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Trump said of Kemp’s plan: “I think spas, beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barbershops … it’s just too soon.”
“I love those people who use all those things,” Trump said, “but they can wait a little bit longer.”
“Safety has to predominate,” he added.
Asked about the same plan Tuesday, Trump praised Kemp as “a capable man who knows what he’s doing.”
Kemp tweeted Monday: “Due to favorable data & more testing, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools & massage therapists can reopen Friday, April 24 with Minimum Basic Operations.”
The governor’s decision has been widely criticized by mayors in Georgia as premature, as well as by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally. Graham said Wednesday night that he agreed with Trump’s take.
“I have great respect for Governor Kemp and believe that future re-openings can occur rather quickly but we must get Phase I right,” Graham said in a statement.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at Trump’s briefing Wednesday: “If I were advising the governor, I would tell him he should be careful. And I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go. … There is a danger of a rebound.”
Asked about Kemp’s barbershop and tattoo parlor plans Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said: “If there’s a way that people can social distance and do those things, then they can do those things. I don’t know how, but people are very creative.”