President Donald Trump once again scolded Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for his decision to start opening businesses again on Friday. Trump made the remarks during his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. This is the second night in a row the president has spoken out against the governor.
“I want the states to open much more than he does,” Trump said. “I didn’t like to see spas open, frankly, I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening. I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy. I could have done something about it if I wanted to.”
Trump said he had considered issuing an order to block Kemp, but instead said he and his advisor would watch the situation in Georgia “closely.”
Trump also pushed back on reports that he was initially supportive of Kemp’s decision, as reported by CNN. When asked by a reporter what he said to Kemp, Trump responded “I told him very distinctly… You do what you think is best, but I’m not happy about it. I’m not happy about Brian Kemp.”
The president made his remarks as the Georgia Department of Public Health was releasing the latest COVID-19 statistics. Confirmed cases stand at 21,883 and the death toll at 881.
Kemp has not wavered in his plan to begin reopening sectors of the economy on April 24, including gyms, hair salons, nail shops, tattoo and massage parlors and bowling alleys. Restaurant dining rooms, private social clubs, and movie theaters on April 27.
Kemp issued an executive order on Thursday evening called “Reviving a Healthy Georgia,” which includes safety specifics for businesses that will be reopening, including taking the temperature of employees, wearing masks, and limiting the number of people inside a business or restaurant. You can read the order at this link.
Kemp has faced mounting criticism for his decision and faced accusations that his move was designed to force workers off the state’s mounting unemployment roll.
VICE reported that the Department of Labor’s website explicitly states that “voluntarily deciding to quit your job out of a general concern about exposure to COVID-19 does not make you eligible for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance].” A Department of Labor spokesperson confirmed to VICE that employees cannot continue to collect pandemic unemployment insurance if they refuse to “return to work out of general safety concerns.”