"I want the states to open more than he does — much more than he does — but I didn't like to see spas open this early stage," Trump said

By Robyn Merrett and Sean Neumann
April 23, 2020 11:20 PM
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Brian Kemp, Donald Trump
| Credit: Getty Images (2)

President Donald Trump said he was "not happy" with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp over his plan to reopen some of the state's businesses on Friday.

"I want the states to open more than he does — much more than he does — but I didn't like to see spas at this early stage," Trump, 73, said during Thursday night's coronavirus briefing at the White House.

"I didn't like to see a lot of things happening and I wasn't happy with it. I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp," Trump said.

"I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp: spas, beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, no," Trump continued, referring to some of the businesses Kemp is allowing to reopen in Georgia, with restrictions.

While he admitted that he would want businesses to be open, Trump said he doesn't agree with the way Kemp has gone about it.

When asked by ABC News' Jon Karl if he was surprised that Kemp's decision was different from the ongoing federal guidelines, Trump said, "He didn't defy me at all."

"That's your language. You know what happened? I said, 'You make your own decision.' I told him that," Trump said he told Kemp.

"I said, 'You're not in the guidelines ... but I want people to be safe and I want the people in Georgia to be safe."

"I don't want this thing to flare up because you decided to do something that is not in the guidelines," Trump continued, adding that he "went to Deborah [Birx] and Dr. Fauci and other people and they weren't thrilled about it."

"I told him very distinctly — Mike [Pence] was there — I said, 'Do what you think is best.' But if you ask me, am I happy about it? I'm not happy about it and I'm not happy about Brian Kemp."

Trump's disapproval of Kemp comes after he previously approved of the governor's decision and said that he trusted Kemp's judgement, the Associated Press reported.

On Monday, Kemp announced that gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, aestheticians and massage therapists can take customers starting Friday.

The establishments will have to work under "minimum basic operations" during the ongoing pandemic.

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Kemp explained the level of operations on Twitter, writing that businesses will be "screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, enhancing workplace sanitation, wearing masks & gloves if appropriate, separating workspaces by six feet, teleworking if possible & implementing staggered shifts."

Gathering spaces like bars, amusement parks and live performance venues will remain closed, though the governor said that dine-in restaurants and movie theaters can open on Monday under restrictions as well.

While most of the country is eager to resume their pre-self-isolation lives and conservative groups have organized protests against the current restrictions across the country, health experts say that it is not a decision that should be rushed.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told the AP that the country is not equipped with the level of testing that experts believe is critical to secure before reopening states. “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said.

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Fauci, a leader in the White House coronavirus task force and leading expert in infectious diseases, said during an appearance on Good Morning America on Monday that the complicated issue of stay-at-home orders should not be relaxed too soon.

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back," he explained. "So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms told CNN on Monday night that she was "concerned" about the governor's reopening plans and that it was not "based on anything that's logical."

"I've spoken with several leaders across this state," she said. "So we really are at a loss, and I am concerned as a mother and as the mayor of our capital city."

As of Thursday, there are now at least 865,252 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., the most worldwide.

At least 44,300 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.

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