Georgia residents are struggling between a desire to return to work and fear of coronavirus resurgence

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Rebecca Hardin is tired of stay-at-home restrictions that weeks ago shut down the Atlanta hair salon where she works, but she wondered if an order by the state’s governor allowing some businesses to reopen this week was a little premature.

Hardin, a 47-year-old hairdresser who also manages Salon Red in Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood, said she needs to get back to work as soon as possible. Even so, she worried that the state was risking a fresh surge of coronavirus infections and loss of life.

“I want to get back to work, but I’m worried it’s too soon,” she said. “Friday seems awfully early when we’re facing a deadly disease that has no cure or vaccine.”

Hardin was one of a handful of Atlantans who spoke with Reuters after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s order allowing salons, gyms, bowling alleys, barbershops, tattoo parlors and other businesses to reopen as of Friday. Next week, dine-in restaurants and movie theaters will be able to reopen as well.

Despite criticism from public health experts and many local officials, Kemp has described the limited reopening as a measured approach that balances the need to get the state’s economy back in gear with the need to assure public safety.

Hardin said it was still uncertain whether Salon Red would reopen on Friday.

“What if I catch it and don’t know I have it and give it to my 8-year-old, or my own parents, let alone my clients,” Hardin said. “I don’t know if it’s worth it to just open up now. It’s just hair.”

Several restaurant owners have told Reuters that they would not reopen Monday, even if it means losing money to the competition.

Brian Maloof, whose family has owned the popular Manuel’s Tavern just east of midtown Atlanta for more than 60 years, will stay closed even to take-out until there is widespread testing available to the public and the number of cases declines.

“I’m losing money every day and I’m worried about my staff, but it can’t be safe yet,” said Maloof, 62. “I have 49 employees and I worry about each one of them, but I don’t want to put them or my customers at risk.”

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