GOP congressman says US should ‘slowly’ reopen for business, barbers can wear masks

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., said Thursday he believes there are ways for businesses such as barbershops and salons to reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Murphy, a urologist who was elected to Congress in 2019, said on CNBC’s ”The Exchange” that restrictions should remain in place for people who are “most at risk, most susceptible” to serious illness from Covid-19. 

“I think it’s important that we keep those sheltered in place really until there are therapeutics,” Murphy said.

But people who are under 65 and “otherwise healthy” should be subject to fewer restrictions, Murphy argued. 

Murphy said he was hearing from people who are “losing their life savings. They’re in despair. They’re just anxious.”
“So there is a balance here,” he said, adding, “We really have to have perspective not only of health care needs but also for folks’ mental health.”

For example, Murphy said he thinks barbershops and salons should be allowed to open with staggered appointments and stylists who wear face masks and gloves. 

“The same thing in restaurants. You could keep a maximum of four people to a table, every other table,” Murphy suggested. 

Murphy stressed he wanted people to “get back into our economy slowly” but he added, “We really do need to start getting back to some semblance of normalcy and … using the data that we’ve learned so far, I think we can do that.” 

There are signs that daily increases new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. may be slowing, leading to greater focus, including from President Donald Trump, on how the U.S. will roll back restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the disease. 

Protesters in several states have pushed for an end to social distancing measures. 

Protesters from a grassroots organization called REOPEN NC demonstrate against the North Carolina coronavirus lockdown at a parking lot adjacent to the North Carolina State Legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 14, 2020.

Logan Cyrus | AFP | Getty Images

However, a recent poll from Morning Consult found 81% of Americans believe those efforts should remain in place as long as necessary to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, even if the policies hurt the U.S. economy. 

Many public health experts, as well as some business leaders, say the U.S. needs to increase its capacity to test for Covid-19 before preventative measures are relaxed. Some public health experts worry about the possibility of a second wave of infections

Murphy said he believes the U.S. needs to continue adding to its ability to test people. He said “the ultimate goal” is getting point-of-care tests that produce rapid results and “surveillance testing, when we’re out in the communities seeing if we’re having viral outbreaks.” 

“But I do think, again, looking at this intelligently, there are places and are segments of our society and economy that we can open up safely,” he said.