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Mayor Girtz Urges Athens Residents to Stay Home

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Photo Credit: Chris Scredon

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz is urging local residents to keep sheltering in place and businesses to stay closed despite Gov. Brian Kemp saying that some businesses can begin to reopen later this week.

Girtz appeared on CNN this morning to discuss Kemp partially lifting his statewide shelter-in-place order.

“I’m exhorting everybody in this community to continue sheltering in place. Do not reopen,” he said. “It’s like telling your quarterback, ‘We don’t have a helmet for you, we don’t have pads, but just get out on the field and try not to get sacked.'”

Kemp said Monday that gyms, hair and nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, massage studios and bowling alleys can reopen on Friday if they follow certain health guidelines. Restaurant dining rooms and theaters can follow suit next Monday, Apr. 27. The order prohibits local governments from enacting stricter rules.

Those kinds of “high-contact” businesses are “exactly the kind of places that we need to have maintain closure for the moment,” Girtz said.

Although he said he understands the financial pressure to reopen, most public health officials have advised continuing to shelter in place until new cases of COVID-19 decline every day for two weeks straight, more testing is available, and the contacts of people who’ve been exposed to coronavirus can be traced. That’s not happening yet in Georgia, Girtz said.

“If somebody’s not alive, they’re not going to be able to be a customer,” he said.