NewsLocal News


Some Georgia businesses push back at timing of reopening

Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 18:07:20-04

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WTXL) — In Georgia, the decision to reopen businesses is not being welcomed by all business owners.

While businesses want to get back to making money, safety is still a concern as coronavirus cases keep increasing.

Keira Johnson owns Steel Magnolias.

"I don't want to take any chances for my people, you know," said Johnson.

She says she will not be one of the restaurants re-opening on April 27.

On Monday, Governor Kemp said he was reopening the state, to help people struggling during this pandemic.

Even so, Johnson says there's too much risk involved.

"I have a 19-month-old son, one of my managers has three little girls, most of my chefs have children," Johnson said. "And we all have to know what we're going home to an end of the night is safe, that we are keeping it safe for them at this point."

For 18 years Charles Wiggins has been running things at Bistro.

"It's been crazy," Wiggins said.

He says their to-go orders are now at about five to 10 percent of what it business was like pre-pandemic.

Now, Wiggins is looking forward to reopening with some new precautions in place.

Wiggins says he's going to take some tables out so customers aren't so close together. He says he's also "been doing stuff like spraying down cash with disinfectant."

"I'm glad somethings happening, but I'm cautious just like everybody else," said Wiggins. "I think it's a good thing because they've got to do something. Everybody's got to get back to work."

"I think restaurants are making between 10 and 15 percent of what they were doing," Johnson said. "So we took that opportunity to go ahead and do some painting, cleaning. We're kind of the first and second level. We paid it out front and then we're just gonna hold in place for a minute."

Johnson hopes to reevaluate things in a couple weeks.

Christopher Vu owns Nails by Chris.

Nail and hair salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and gyms can all reopen April 24, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

"The second my customers walk out, my employees spray sanitizer on the chairs, nail stations, everywhere around it," said Vu.

While Vu understands the mixed feelings, he's ready to get back to business.

"I'm excited," said Vu. "I know people are against it and I understand that people have bills to pay."

When the pandemic first started, the mayor of Valdosta wasted no time making changes to local restaurants.

John Gayle, the mayor of Valdosta, issued the following statement.

We want our business owners and their patrons to return to some sense of normalcy. It is going to take all of us working together to ensure we don't see a surge in cases once businesses begin to re-open.