by Chris White
Georgia’s restaurants and barber shops are seeing a slow but steady increase in traffic after Gov. Brian Kemp began easing up the economic lockdowns he imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic, location data show.
Visits to the state’s barber shops and tattoo parlors increased to 80% of pre-coronavirus levels after Georgia began rolling back own stay-at-home orders on April 24, according to data released by Foursquare, a location technology platform. Data also show restaurants are on the rebound.
Restaurants returned to more than 75% of normal levels as dine-in service establishments reopened, data show. Gym visits rose as well, with visits down less than 60% of pre-pandemic levels in the week ending May 1, a slower decline than the 65% to 75% drops weeks earlier, according to Foursquare’s report.
The data show that rural and urban communities responded differently. Restaurant visits in rural parts of the Peach State hit 88% of pre-virus levels, while eateries in urban areas was still at 50% as of May 1.
President Donald Trump joined critics disagreeing with Kemp’s move, with the president suggesting at an April 22 White House briefing that it was “too soon” for Georgia to open. Kemp announced the ease of lockdowns on April 21.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia,” the president said. “They have been strong, resolute, but at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right … I disagree with him on what he is doing.”
Foursquare’s data also show that Americans in general are becoming more relaxed about leaving their homes.
Americans are back to visiting gas stations and fast food restaurants at pre-COVID-19 levels in certain parts of the country, according to a report the company published on April 30. Foursquare noted in a blog post that people are apparently feeling more free to travel about.
Gas stations are down only 6% nationally as of April 24, compared to 8-11% weeks prior, Foursquare noted in its April 30 report.
Such visits to fuel stations have returned to normal in the Midwest and in rural areas, which have seen slower spread and fewer COVID-19-related deaths than coastal cities.
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Chris White is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.