Kemp sows dangerous confusion with ambiguous loopholes

(Photo: Gov. Kemp and I agree that access to tequila is “essential” — though I don’t think either of us has a truly legitimate argument.)

It seems there is still a lot of confusion surrounding Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s order issued last week. Plenty of establishments are still open, including the liquor store closest to my house. Just today I saw a car dealership open and a man delivering pine straw.

I can’t imagine why people are confused.

After all, I’ve got the text of the order right here in front of me and it clearly states in no uncertain terms, “Whereas, loophole, loophole, loophole.” Wow. no wonder it took him so long to finally issue such a needed order. He obviously put a lot of thought into it.

To paraphrase what he ordered: Stay home unless you go out. If you’re an essential business, stay open. If you’re a non-essential business, you can only stay open if you do anything a business does, such as “provide services.” Um, isn’t that the very definition of a business? I hand you money in exchange for your service.

I feel sorry for the authorities out there tasked with making sure no one and no business is violating the order that went into effect at 6 p.m. Friday and theoretically expires at 11:59 p.m. April 13. Nearly any business they come across can argue they are adhering to the order — so long as they are following all of the extensive coronavirus safety protocol, which includes providing workers with protective equipment, disinfectant items and allowing every possible employee who can telecommute to do so, which I doubt many will do. In fact, I’ll guarantee not a single open business is adhering to the full extent of the safety precautions required to stay open.

Certainly many businesses will simply follow the order and make the best they can of the situation, especially the kinds of businesses that can empower employees to work from home. And some businesses have been clearly singled out for obvious reasons — such as gyms and nail salons where it is almost impossible to cut out contact with others or with surfaces others are touching. But It’s clear that many not-so-essential places are trying to go on with business as usual.

I can understand why some businesses would fight to stay open. Some businesses’ very survival and the jobs of their workers are at stake. Still, others are simply greedy and are willing to risk people’s lives unnecessarily. And, as one would expect in this fact-averse propaganda age in which we live, there are still plenty of people who believe this virus stuff is all hype anyway, no matter how many people die. I assume they are the same kinds of folks who would charge into a pizza joint with assault rifles looking for Hillary Clinton’s child sex ring that’s in the basement, who believe the Sandy Hook shootings were faked, or who would threaten Dr. Anthony Fauci for making President Trump look bad with his facts and expert opinions based upon decades of experience, training and research.

But I suspect that one of the reasons it took so long for Kemp to issue the actual order after announcing that he would soon do it was that his phone was ringing off the hook with businesses arguing how essential they are.

Obviously, one of those business segments that got through to Gov. Kemp is the gun industry — not much of a surprise since one of Kemp’s campaign commercials featured him semi-jokingly threatening a teenager with a shotgun. The order very clearly states that anything to do with firearms — selling them, selling ammunition, hugging them — is perfectly OK because this is an absolutely essential arena in case we have to shoot that dadgum China virus. (My shotgun is loaded, by the way … just in case that works!)

Folks like Tybee Island’s mayor, however, were not quite as effective as the gun lobby. After the city closed down its beaches, Kemp’s shelter-at-home order re-opened the beaches for recreational activity such as walking or jogging along the beach. Quite frankly, I don’t have a problem with the beaches being open. But it would have made a lot more sense for his order to reopen the beaches so long as (a) the local authorities have not closed the beach and (b) folks maintain safe social distancing practices. Republicans are all about local control … except when they are not.

Kemp’s laying down of the law — or laying down the vagueness — capped a pretty embarrassing week in which he was lambasted for just finding out that coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic people. That’s pretty scary in a state that has been extremely slow to the testing scene and where even mildly symptomatic folks — as I’ve learned firsthand — have a hard time getting tested. I thought everyone knew this, but maybe it was just me, Dr. Fauci and the CDC.

On a related note, Gov. Kemp is announcing a revolutionary breakthrough next week. Rumor has it that television may soon be broadcast in color or refrigerators may start being available with an extremely cold section called a “freezer.” His report next week is expected to clarify you will have every right to buy a gun and shoot these newfangled devices.

At least he didn’t have as bad of a week as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who finally signed a stay-at-home order just before Kemp — but DeSantis’ order exempts gatherings at houses of worship, which have been major spreaders of the virus. I believe it’s called The Florida Stay At Home Unless You Want To Kill Grandma At Church Act.

Hopefully, God will give some of our elected leaders a little common sense before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, there is a positive side to Governor Kemp’s loophole-laden shelter-in-place order — we are all essential, apparently. Maybe that’s the uplifting message we all need today. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta run to the gun shop and buy a pistol and then hit the liquor store on the way to the beach. If I’m gonna shelter in place, I’d rather do it at the beach packing heat in one hand and a frozen margarita in the other.

p.s. — In case you wonder why Kemp would exclude gun stores from his order, perhaps this pandering ad from his gubernatorial campaign will jog your memory:

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