Apr 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

3 Southern states will begin to ease coronavirus lockdowns

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Governors in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina have announced plans to ease their coronavirus lockdowns.

The latest: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced plans on Monday to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen on Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

  • The state's shelter-in-place order will remain active until April 30. But indoor facilities including gyms, bowling alleys and salons will be allowed to reopen — as long as they maintain social distancing requirements and abide by other safety rules.
  • Restaurants will also be allowed to reopen on April 27 as long as they meet guidelines that are set to be released this week.
  • The "medically fragile" are being encouraged to remain home until May 13.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) also announced on Monday that he will not be extending the state's stay-at-home order past April 30 and that businesses will be permitted to reopen next week, per the Tennessean.

  • But some local restrictions could remain in place, particularly in the state's larger cities.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said on Monday that some retail shopping facilities will be permitted to reopen that had previously been deemed "nonessential," per The State.

  • Stores will still be required to abide by social distancing rules and tightened occupancy limits.
  • Facilities that involve close human contact including salons and gyms will remain closed.

The big picture: President Trump has encouraged governors of states with "beautifully low" numbers to reopen their economies. Trump's "slow the spread" policies only extend at the federal level until May 1.

  • Public health officials have expressed concerns that reopening too early could cause a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Go deeper

PPP failed to get money to industries and areas most in need

Data: U.S. Small Business Administration; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) "appears to have missed the mark," S&P Global chief economist Beth Ann Bovino writes in a research report to be released today.

What it means: The PPP's first round largely skipped over states and industries that were the most in need, while the second round still has 39% of allocated cash remaining, even as many businesses are at risk of permanent closure.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

D.C. chef: Restaurants need more time to spend PPP money

Photo: Axios screenshot

Restaurants need more time to spend money they've received from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that the loans are forgivable, Kwame Onwuachi, owner and head chef of Kith and Kin, a D.C.-based restaurant, said during an Axios digital event.

Why it matters: Onwuachi said small restaurants are reaching the end of the eight-week time limit to spend the money. If they do not spend the money, the loans may not be forgiven.