Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp attends the Election Night event at the Classic Center on November 6, 2018 in Athens, Georgia.
Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images
President Donald Trump on Friday denied that he and Vice President Mike Pence gave Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp approval to reopen certain businesses in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
“Spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, & barber shops should take a little slower path, but I told the Governor to do what is right for the great people of Georgia (& USA)!” Trump said in a tweet.
The president appeared to be responding to the Associated Press’ report Thursday that he and Pence repeatedly gave Kemp a green light to allow businesses to reopen as early as this week.
“FAKE NEWS!” Trump said in his tweet, without identifying any specific news reports.
Kemp unveiled his new reopening policy Monday. Two days later, Trump said he “totally disagrees” with the plan, adding that it violated the federal reopening guidelines released by the White House last week.
Trump doubled down at a press briefing Thursday, saying, “I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy.”
The AP reported that Trump’s about-face on Georgia’s reopening plan came after top White House health advisors persuaded him that Kemp was moving too quickly and could cause further spread of the coronavirus.
Kemp’s plan allows tattoo parlors, spas, hair salons and barbershops, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen this week so long as they, and their patrons, follow physical distancing orders and other guidelines.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Kemp said, “Our decisions and direction are informed by data and public health recommendations.”
“Now, with favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are taking another measured step forward by opening shuttered businesses for limited operations,” the governor tweeted.
Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the president’s tweet.
There are at least 21,883 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Georgia, and 881 deaths from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.