Georgia Gov. Kemp balances health effects of unemployment, COVID-19 in state's reopening plan

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference at the Capitol building in Atlanta on Monday, April 27, 2020, during the coronavirus outbreak. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Concern for health - not greed - is fueling Georgia's economic reopening strategy in the face of criticism and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Brian Kemp said on Monday.

Many, including President Donald Trump, have questioned whether Georgia's data supports Kemp's decision to pursue one of the country's most aggressive statewide reopening strategies, which allowed gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to open with restrictions on April 24. Restaurants could resume dine-in service starting April 27, though bars and nightclubs must remain closed.

More than 75% of Georgia voters support a statewide shelter-in-place to combat the spread of the coronavirus, according to a University of Georgia survey reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. That same survey found that roughly 62% of Georgia voters disapprove of Kemp's decision to ease restrictions on restaurants, theaters and close-contact businesses, such as barbershops and nail salons - a move that was denounced by Democratic leaders, prominent local mayors and Trump.