Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, the Mayor of Marietta, Georgia, has added a haircut to his Friday schedule, and it seems that he doesn’t have to travel far as the owner says at least one local hair salon says he’ll be open and welcomes that Business.
Tumlin’s plans, which were an inconspicuous event in normal times, were expressed to support the controversial decision by the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, to reopen businesses like barbershops and spas across the state on Friday, followed by the dining rooms local restaurants on Monday.
Kemp refused to reverse the course of his decision on Wednesday to resume business with close contacts on Friday, saying he wanted to “protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians”.
The governor maintained that even after President Donald Trump said he disagreed with Kemp’s efforts to lift restrictions on curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms rejected Kemp’s decision to reopen the state, claiming that it would be “fatal” to many people in her community. “It is very important to me that we continue to see an upward trend in our state and hurry to reopen stores,” she said
However, Tumlin has made it clear that he is in Kemp’s corner. The mayor used social media to share his plans for Friday – a gym workout and a haircut – after Kemp announced it would loosen restrictions on some companies. The mayor, like a Republican Kemp, also wrote in a no-longer-visible post that was first published in the Atlanta Journal constitution that he would soon be eating three meals a day in Marietta restaurants.
Tumlin, mayor of the city since 2010, did not return a request for comment. However, a spokesman said in an email that Marietta is following the guidelines for reopening Kemp. Regarding Tumlin’s personal care appointment at the end of the week, the spokesman said: “His plans may change, but at that time Mayor Tumlin can get a haircut on Friday if he so requests, according to the governor’s orders.”
“We are at the end of the totem pole”
Y’Kheyo Underwood, owner of Marietta’s Good Look Barber Shop, is also on board with Kemp’s decision, saying his store will reopen on Friday considering the safety of its employees and customers. Underwood had been in the business for 12 years and had many gloves on hand and masks covered in a local beauty shop. Every workplace is equipped with Lysol towels and hand disinfectants, he said.
“I can remove any other waiting chair when there is so much traffic,” he said of socially distant mandates to keep six feet between people.
Still, he doesn’t expect the masses – or even all of his four employees – to return immediately. “I don’t think it will be full, the transition to normal will take a little time. It shook people,” Underwood said of the pandemic.
Underwood disagrees with critics of reopening parts of the state economy. “Those who complain about the early reopening of small businesses are either still being paid by their businesses or institutions while they are in their own homes, or are retired,” he said. “I don’t think anyone complains who went through what I went through in my work and tried to stay afloat during these ‘pandemic’ times. We, like in small, ‘non-essential’ companies, are at the bottom of the totem pole, so nobody cares. “
He said he was one of the many small businesses that the government had applied for, but did not receive, low-interest loan relief. Underwood paid half the rent for his business earlier this month. “So I’m not digging a hole that is too big, and after shutting down, I couldn’t pay the second half.”
Like many other small businesses, Underwood has limited options. “I had a couple of dollars in reserve to use,” he said, saying he didn’t think he could pay the rent and keep a non-operating business going for more than a month and a half.
“We have to start earning as soon as possible,” he said. “People are willing to take the risk of getting the corona virus just to pay the bills.”
Similar words were said by Marcia Sanders, a massage therapist who runs two therapeutic locations as a single practitioner, one in Marietta and one in nearby Hiram.
“If you have no money, it will be a relief,” said Sanders of Kemp’s call to reopen. Still, the lost income doesn’t go well with her, and Sanders believes the process could have been handled differently from the start.
“I just feel like we could have been wearing masks,” said Sanders, who disinfects her massage tables and face pads between customers rather than shutting them down. “So I hope I’m fine. I wear a mask, customers wear a mask. I let everyone wash their hands. It’s an opportunity I take; I know people need me.”
Like Underwood, Sanders reports that he hit a wall when applying for help from the US Small Business Administration. “My bank told me they were running out of money,” said Sanders, who has been in business for 17 years.
However, according to a spokesman for Barbearia Barber Shop, another small company in Marietta is not ready to reopen next Friday.
“We are currently evaluating the emotional and financial condition of our team, taking stock and asking availability to buy the products and items we need to keep our shop hygienic and safe for our team and our customers,” said the Barbearia spokesman in an email. “With that in mind, we are not yet ready to set an opening date. It is financially demanding to be closed for so long, but we try to be very aware of the safety of our team and our customers.”