As Georgia reopens, black-owned businesses fight the state

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Glenn Singfield II, of Albany, Georgia, said that although his family is suffering financially, they will keep their restaurant, The Flint, closed until they can come up with a plan to keep employees and customers safe .

“I support my governor, mayor, all of that,” he said. “However, we must do what is best for our community and our employees and employees. “

Albany, a town in southern Georgia, was hit hard by the Covid-19 cases – and Singfield II said he had lost people close to him and his family to the virus.

“Anyone who gets sick and dies or gets sick would hurt us personally,” said Singfield II.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Republican and President Donald Trump’s ally, was among the last governors to sign a shelter order on the spot on April 2. He announced last week that he would allow certain businesses in the state – including nail salons, massage therapists, bowling alleys and gymnasiums – to reopen.

Kemp’s decision has been widely criticized, and even Trump, who pushed for companies to reopen as soon as possible, said last week that he was “strongly” at odds with Kemp.

Put the black community “even more in danger”

Some black leaders in Georgia have said that Kemp’s decision to end the early closure was an attack on the colored people of the state.

The impact of the virus on African Americans is much more severe than on other populations.

In a report released Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a study of the data showed that among those hospitalized in Georgia because of Covid-19, more than 80% were black. African Americans make up 32 percent of the state’s population, but they make up 40 percent of Covid-19 cases, the report said.

Black leaders say reopening Georgia is attack on people of color

“This is one of the reasons why I was so shocked that Georgia is opening up because African Americans now have a higher rate,” said Dyan Matthews, president and CEO of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, which represents eight cities near Atlanta with large black populations.

“The biggest fear is that many non-core businesses will end up having to open all their doors,” said Matthews. “This will continue to increase the numbers in our community, putting us even more at risk. “

Georgia has at least 25,599 cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday and 239 people died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

While business owners may choose to keep their doors closed, some feel compelled to open because they have received none of the federal funds that were supposed to go to small businesses to help them keep paying their employees. said Matthews.

‘Too much too soon’

Gocha Hawkins, who reopened his Atlanta cafe, Gocha’s Breakfast Bar, for dinner with customers on Monday, said his biggest concern was with his employees.

Most of its employees are unemployed, she said. Although she requested financial assistance from the Small Business Association’s payroll protection program, she said that she received no response.

“I thought it was too much too soon,” she said of Kemp’s decision to allow certain companies to reopen. “I didn’t think it was a good idea. “

Since reopening, Hawkins has said it has about six customers eating a day. Before the coronavirus outbreak, her restaurant was at full capacity, she said.

Carlos Davis, owner of the CUT-ology hair salon in Albany, has also reopened. But he now serves customers while wearing a mask and face shield.

Davis said he was afraid “of what was going on there,” but also feared that he would have no business to reopen if it remained closed.

“It’s a kind of bet,” he said, “but I really have no choice. “

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