Business owners eager to get back to work following president’s plan to reopen country

ATLANTA — President Donald Trump laid out his official plan to reopen America on Thursday, but he says he’s going to let individual states decide when they do it.

The first call Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston made was to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office about when Georgia may be ready to reopen.

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His office said the governor wasn’t able to talk about it yet, because he’s busy making plans. But local business owners are already excited.

Salem Makhlouf, who owns four metro Atlanta restaurants, is feeling optimistic now that the president has laid out a plan to reopen the country.

"Everybody is excited. My chef, my wife, my employees. We're ready," Makhlouf told Huddleston.

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There are three parts to Trump's guidelines:

In Phase 1, people should continue to avoid crowds no more than 10 people in a gathering. Seniors and vulnerable adults should also continue to shelter in place. With social distancing people could return to work, but schools, youth activities and bars remain closed.

In Phase 2, social distancing will continue, but groups of 50 will be allowed to gather. Restaurants and large venues like movie theaters and Mercedes-Benz Stadium can open with moderate physical distancing guidelines; the same with schools and gyms.

“This is a gradual process,” Trump said. "Governors will be empowered to tailor approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states."

If there is no rebound of coronavirus cases after the first two phases, then Phase 3 can start.

In this final phase, states could allow seniors and vulnerable adults out of shelter-in-place orders and people could return to work and social activity, unrestricted.

Gyms and large spaces like State Farm Arena can open with limited distancing.

That is all great news for big and small businesses.

"We want to get back to work," Makhlouf said.

Kemp's shelter-in-place order goes through April 30, but he has said that date could change. The state is currently on track to meet its peak of coronavirus cases around May 1.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for a shelter in place before state leaders. She said there should be no rush to reopen the country.

"My suggestion would be to listen to the experts,” Bottoms said. "I would rather us take our time and make sure our communities are healthy and whole."

Other local leaders said they will wait to hear what scientists think is best because Georgia still does not have wide spread coronavirus testing.