People rally outside governor’s mansion over reopening of some businesses

GEORGIA — Today is the day Georgia’s governor is allowing certain non-essential businesses to reopen, so long as they following the existing guidelines laid out in his executive order.

That’s not making a lot of people very happy, but at the same time, a lot of people are thrilled by that, including people Channel 2’s Richard Elliot saw riding by the governor’s mansion Friday.

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There was a rally by people supporting the governor's plan to allow some businesses like barber shops, hair and nail salons and gyms, to reopen.

But at the same time, there are a lot of voices wanting him to rescind that order.

We were there as the group, Concerned Black Clergy, gathered to demand Kemp shut everything back down.

[FULL LIST: Stores allowed to open in Georgia in Phase 1 of COVID-19 recovery]

"We are warning our community. We are warning the pastors of our community. We are warning the people of our community to stay home, to stay smart, to stay safe," Shannon Jones said.

He took off in the state helicopter at about 9:45 a.m. Friday.

He’s in South Georgia, in Adel and Pelham, touring the damage left behind by the bad storms that hit there Thursday.

At the state capitol, another rally encouraged people to stay home.

“Stay home. Stay home. Stay put. Stay safe. God bless you,” Donzella James said.

Kemp previously said he was basing his decision on data and guidance from public health officials.

He points to the fact that the state has thousands of available hospital beds, including ones at the Georgia World Congress Center.

We looked at those infection numbers which appear still to be going up, though not at the rate they have been in previous weeks. The state said it’s ramping up testing, an additional 6,100 tests in the past 24 hours.

It also reports 11 more people have died of COVID-19 in Georgia during that same time period. While it is a hard number to see, it is also a number lower than past 24-hour totals.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms lashed out at the governor’s reopening plan Friday morning.

“There are some who are willing to sacrifice lives for the sake of the economy, and that’s unacceptable to me,” Bottoms said.

Nathan and Gidget Williford disagree with her comments.

They drove two hours to attend a pro-reopen rally that got canceled after Kemp announced his plan.

They said the shutdown is destroying their small business.

“We don’t want to live in fear. We want to live in faith. We want to practice what we preach. No matter what the religion is, we don’t need to be in fear. It just makes it worse, and that makes the pandemic worse than it needs to be,” Nathan Williford said.