Local officials in Georgia have slammed the governor as ‘stupid’ and ‘crazy’ following his decision to re-open coastal beaches, despite a statewide stay-at-home order being in place.
The popular tourist destination Tybee Island closed its beaches on March 20. Town locals even put up barricades and signs to keep beachgoers away to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
But on Thursday all those efforts unraveled when Governor Brian P. Kemp issued a statewide shelter-in-place executive order, which supersedes local county orders, and also opened up state beaches, forcing Tybee Island to re-open.
Since Kemp’s order, locals and visitors have flocked to the beach, in defiance of the White House’s orders to stay indoors and avoid contact with others.
Tybee Island, located near Savannah, is home to about 3,000 residents.
Georgia State Patrol Capt. Thornell King, bottom right, watches visitors to Tybee Island beach on Saturday after Gov. Bryan Kemp signed an executive order allowing people to exercise outside, with social distancing of at least six feet because of the coronavirus outbreak
Locals in Georgia have slammed the governor as ‘stupid’ and ‘crazy’ following his decision to re-open coastal beaches, despite a statewide stay-at-home order being in place. Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division Corporal Barry Britt pictured talking to two beach goers on Tybee Island on Saturday
A member of the Tybee Island, Ga., Life Guards, left, patrols the beach on an ATV while visitors sunbathe on the sand on Saturday after Gov. Bryan Kemp signed an executive order opening up beaches, despite protest from locals
A Tybee Island, Ga., resident uses her phone to text a friend near the pier on the south side of Tybee beach while wearing a handmade mask on Saturday
On Saturday Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Session issued a statement slamming the governor’s re-opening of beaches as a ‘reckless’ mandate that puts locals and tourists at risk.
‘As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the Coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen, and declared any decision-makers who refused to follow these orders would face prison and/or fines,’ Sessions shared in a statement.
‘Tybee City Council and I are devastated by the sudden directives and do not support his decisions. The health of our residents, staff and visitors are being put at risk and we will pursue legal avenues to overturn his reckless mandate,’ she added.
Kemp seemed to reply to the backlash on Saturday sharing a picture of locals on Tybee Island social distancing as they walked along the beach.
He tweeted: ‘Beachgoers are mostly locals and complying with social distancing orders. We will continue to monitor conditions.’
He argued that his move to re-open beaches was an effort to allow Georgians to exercise.
On Saturday Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Session issued a statement slamming the governor’s re-opening of beaches as a ‘reckless’ mandate that puts locals and tourists at risk
Allen Booker, the Democratic County commissioner in Glynn County, Georgia called Kemp’s order to open beaches ‘stupid and crazy at the same time.’
Sessions shared a video on Facebook begging visitors to stay away, despite the governor’s order.
‘We are now in a position where we are pleading with the public and with our residents to adhere to the beach closing,’ Sessions said, saying the coastal town is in a ‘very precarious situation’.
Tybee Island is one of the smallest beaches in the state, but one of the most visited.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has come under fire for his delayed stay at home orders last week, where he lagged far behind other states grappling with the coronavirus outbreak. Since then he’s butt heads with Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions
On Saturday Kemp tweeted pictures of beachgoers on Tybee Island noting that people were complying with social distancing orders
He shared this photo showing very few people on Tybee Island Beach on Saturday
The city has a tiny police force of just 25 officers, and one has already tested positive for COVID-19 and five others are self-quarantined due to potential exposure. This means the city is incapable of properly monitoring its own beaches.
‘We don’t have lifeguards on our beaches yet, and if people decide to go into the ocean and there’s an accident, something really tragic, Tybee is going to be in a very bad position,’ Sessions said to WTOC.
Kemp has come under fire for his delayed stay at home orders last week, where he lagged far behind other states grappling with the coronavirus outbreak.
He justified the decision saying that he had just learned that COVID-19 can be spread through asymptomatic people, a fact that health officials had announced long beforehand.
As of Monday Georgia has reported a total of 7,314 coronavirus cases and 229 deaths.
As of Monday Georgia has reported a total of 7,314 coronavirus cases and 229 deaths. A coronavirus testing facility at Georgia Tech in Atlanta pictured Monday
As of Monday there are over 347,000 cases of COVID-19 in the US and over 10,000 deaths