Manuel’s Tavern, an institution in the unofficial capital of the southern United States, has been at the forefront of political politics in Atlanta for 50 years, but on Friday, the popular bar with the city’s electricity brokers will pass next to the battle that is brewing in Georgia. on the reopening of the state’s economy.
Conservative Republican Governor Brian Kemp has announced that Georgians will be able to get tattoos, bowling and fingernails starting Friday and sit at a table in a restaurant early next week. But Manuel’s Tavern posted a notice on his Facebook page with a straight answer.
“All of our experience and the wisdom of some really smart people who work at the tavern think it’s too early. As much as I would like to be open, this does not happen. Being closed was not fun, but it was the best thing we could have done safer for our staff and our customers. “
The restaurant, where former president Jimmy Carter announced his governorship in 1970 and Barack Obama played a dart game in 2015, said to his fans, “Don’t hate us for safety. “
The opposing parties taken by Manuel’s owners – and many others like them in Georgia – and the state’s Republican leaders, backed by some right-wing protest groups, are a microcosm of the controversy that is beginning to spread to the states. United as some states push to reopen their economies in the face of disastrous warnings from many health professionals.
Across Atlanta, businesses are reluctant to allow people into their establishments, as coronavirus cases and deaths in Georgia show no signs of following a sustained downward path.
According to federal recommendations, Georgia should not open businesses until June. Critics of the governor call this a purely political decision in a year in which he faced numerous oppositions, including from his own party. Kemp even disagreed with the majority Republican legislature this session over his decision to place Kelly Loeffler in a seat in the United States Senate, and he is turning to an election year where demographics indicate the southern red state is hovering at left.
Critics say he makes decisions with politics in mind, stirring a right-wing base in the hopes of retaining power – much like Donald Trump.
“This is a reckless political decision to appease the president, despite the fact that experts tell us that Georgia has neither enough general tests nor enough medical resources to reopen without endangering many lives “Said Georgia Democratic Party president Nikema Williams.
The Guardian interviewed a dozen business owners and city residents, and none agreed with the new state directives.
Even Kemp seems aware of the risks of reopening.
Asked if the state legislature – suspended since March 12 – would also resume, the governor said that Tim Bryant’s legislators from WGAU “were waiting to return until it was a safe environment to do it, and have the proper protocols where, you know, we can make sure it’s not a dangerous situation for anyone who would need to be on Capitol Hill. “
He also mentioned in the same interview that he asked his mother and wife to stay at home because of pre-existing conditions.
Many critics of the governor claim that his decision to allow the reopening of certain businesses will disproportionately affect minority communities, giving the conflict a racial tinge in an area already plagued by such problems.
“This virus has had a disproportionate impact on the lives of black and brown people. We cannot and will not remain silent and watch the premature opening of businesses that are primarily in African American communities, “said the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (GLBC) in a group statement.
Bernice A King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King, who is also part of the governor’s outreach task force, learned of the decision only when a friend texted her. said on Twitter.
Killer Mike, the rapper and owner of an Atlanta-based hair salon, who has championed the city’s African American community, said his business would not reopen.
“Our first concern is to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers. Although we obviously want to reopen, and we are encouraged to do so as business owners, we do not want to contribute to the spread of the virus, “he said in a statement to The Guardian.
Kemp’s office did not respond to a request for comment, although he and Loeffler held a teleconference on Wednesday.
” We think we can create a business model while separating the tables and protecting our employees and our customers, so I think you will see some of that start the first part of next week on a limited basis, “said Kemp .
“We ask people not to travel or shop unless they need to. They can certainly go to these establishments that I have just mentioned and to others that are necessary, “he added in connection with future manicure and bowling salons.