CORONAVIRUS

Trump Tells Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp He's Reopening State 'Too Soon'

But the president also said the Republican governor "has to do what he thinks is right."

President Donald Trump says he disagrees “very strongly” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen portions of the state’s businesses this weekend despite the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“I love those people that use all those things, the spas and the beauty parlors, I love them, but they can wait a little longer, just a little bit, not much, but safety has to predominate,” Trump said Wednesday during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. “It’s just too soon.”

Kemp introduced a plan Monday to reopen gyms, barbershops, nail salons and bowling alleys in Georgia on Friday. Other businesses, including movie theaters, are scheduled to reopen shortly after. The announcement drew bipartisan criticism from mayors across the state and elected officials from neighboring states, including South Carolina.

“I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision,” Trump said at the press conference. “But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right.”

Trump’s comments appearing to distance himself from Kemp’s decision follow his tweets encouraging protests of stay-at-home orders in states with Democratic governors.

In a series of tweets Friday, Trump sent out calls to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia ― three swing states led by Democratic governors ― in an echo of a small number of protesters who demanded that businesses be allowed to reopen.

Vice President Mike Pence also urged elected officials to heed White House guidelines regarding social distancing and staying at home.

“I want to say to my countrymen: The fastest way to reopen America is to continue to do what you’ve been doing. That’s the fastest way, as President Trump has said many times, to get our country working again,” Pence said Wednesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, had an even more direct message for Kemp.

“I would advise him as a doctor and a health official not to do that,” Fauci said.


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