Emphasis on “some.” And emphasis on “hints”: She strains hard here not to directly criticize Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for his order letting certain businesses, like barber shops and nail salons, reopen on Friday. We need social distancing in phase one of our guidelines, Birx stresses. If haircuts and nail treatments can be performed “creatively” somehow to ensure physical space between the vendor and the customer, then fine.

…Which feels like an unnecessarily indirect way of saying, “No, of course businesses that require physical contact on the premises shouldn’t be open yet.”

I’m actually more interested in what she has to say about decisions to reopen being made on a community-by-community basis. The great debate over reopening has focused to this point on governors’ authority versus Trump’s. Birx suggests that, because outbreaks differ from city to city, the more relevant debate might be whether governors or *mayors* should have the final say. Atlanta’s mayor sounds up for that, asking viewers on MSNBC yesterday to “please stay home” and adding that “There’s nothing essential about going to a bowling alley during a pandemic.”

Letting mayors and other relevant local officials decide would allow for more granular urban/rural blue/red decisions on when to reopen. But it would also intensify a problem we’ll be having in ways large and small for the duration of the epidemic: How do we minimize traffic between hard-hit areas and less hard-hit areas? If Atlanta stays locked down, some residents craving freedom will travel to parts of the state that have reopened. Will they seed an outbreak there? Or will they pick up the virus from an outbreak that’s already been seeded there because of the lighter restrictions and carry it back to Atlanta with them?

One way to handle that issue is to shrug and say that most people will behave prudently no matter what rules are in effect. We just saw evidence this morning that lockdowns don’t work, didn’t we? Transmission rates have declined because the public engaged in social distancing voluntarily, to protect itself from infection, not because the governor issued a stay-at-home order. That being so, we should be willing to let Kemp experiment with a partial reopening. Just because some businesses in Georgia are *allowed* to reopen on Friday doesn’t mean they *have* to reopen. We should trust business owners to act according to their own personal risk tolerance. This AP piece quotes a hair-salon owner and a gym owner in Georgia as saying they won’t reopen soon because, a la Birx, there’s no way to perform their service without putting people at risk. (“We are not going to be a vector of death and suffering.”) But other Georgians are going to give it a go. One woman who runs a salon for kids’ haircuts is spacing out workstations, limiting the number of people inside, and taking customers’ temperatures before letting them in. The market will decide whether that’s viable.

There’s one potential catch to reopening and leaving it to business owners to decide for themselves whether it’s safe to proceed, though. Namely, business owners don’t call all of their own shots.

Ian Jones, who owns four restaurants in the Atlanta area, is concerned Kemp’s order could force people to reopen prematurely because lenders and landlords might stop being forgiving.

“It just seems like it’s too early,” Jones said.

If you think reopening is unsafe and your bank and your landlord think it’s fine if Brian Kemp says it’s fine, what do you do? So long as the stay-at-home order is in effect, the state is on your side in that equation. Once it isn’t, it isn’t.

It’s mostly red states that are experimenting with reopening, with several southern governors having formed their own multistate coalition to coordinate on it. Andrew Cuomo and various Democratic governors have done the same thing but their coalitions were a defensive scheme aimed at resisting Trump in case he attempted to order them to reopen on a certain date. The southern coalition was formed, it seems, to give governors a crowd to hide in as they reopen early in case it backfires by igniting a nasty second wave of the epidemic. But there’s a notable exception to the trend among Republican states: Colorado, which has a Democratic governor and which voted for Clinton in 2016, is also moving to partially reopen next week, with businesses like hair salons and tattoo shops okay to open on April 27 and larger businesses eligible (at reduced capacity) on May 4. The great reopen debate will largely be a partisan one but not entirely, as Colorado shows. Even liberals need to eat.

Exit quotation from Reuters, citing its new poll: “72% of adults in the United States said people should stay at home ‘until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe.’ That included 88% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans, and seven in 10 independents.”