Even as the confirmed US death toll from coronavirus rose past 50,000, salons, spas and barbershops reopened Friday in Georgia and Oklahoma with a green light from their Republican governors, who eased lockdown orders despite health experts’ warnings.
In Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt authorised personal-care businesses to open, citing a decline in the number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19. Those businesses were directed to maintain social distancing, require masks and frequently sanitise equipment.
Still, some of the state’s largest cities, including Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, were opting to keep their bans in place until at least the end of April.
With deaths and infections still rising in Georgia, many business owners planned to stay closed despite Governor Brian Kemp’s assurance that hospital visits and new cases have levelled off enough for barbers, tattoo artists, massage therapists and personal trainers to return to work with restrictions.
Kemp’s timeline to restart the economy proved too ambitious even for President Donald Trump, who said he disagrees with the fellow Republican’s plan.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15, while lifting restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in outdoor activities like golf and motorised boating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michigan has nearly 3,000 deaths related to COVID-19, behind only New York and New Jersey among US states.