ATLANTA — President Donald Trump praised Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s aggressive plan to allow businesses to reopen in private discussions before pulling an about-face and publicly bashing it.
That is according to two administration officials not authorized to discuss the conversations.
Kemp’s order allows businesses like gyms, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to open Friday under certain restrictions.
It’s one of the most aggressive plans in the nation for reopening a state’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump had been supportive but changed course Wednesday after members of his task force revisited the plan and decided it was too soon.
During his daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday, Trump said he was not happy with Kemp and the decision to reopen spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys as early as Friday.
“I didn’t like to see spas opening, frankly. I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening and I wasn’t happy with it, and I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp,” Trump said on Thursday. “I could have done something about it if I wanted to. But I’m saying let the governors do it, but I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp."
Trump went on to say that he wants the people to be safe.
"I want people to be safe and I want the people of 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 went a step further on Friday morning, excoriating Kemp on Twitter.
"I (or @VP) never gave Governor Brian Kemp an OK on those few businesses outside of the Guidelines," Trump said, suggesting that reports to the contrary were, in his words, "fake news."
"Spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, & barber shops should take a little slower path, but I told the Governor to do what is right for the great people of Georgia," Trump said.
The governor told 11Alive on Wednesday that he stands by his decision and that he is using the data provided by experts.
However, this is contrary to a scientific model generally cited by the federal government and other researchers, from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Education (IHME).
The IHME modeling data suggests that businesses in Georgia should not reopen before June 22.
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