ATLANTA (Reuters) – An array of U.S. merchants in Georgia and other states prepared on Thursday to reopen for the first time in a month under newly relaxed coronavirus restrictions, as another week of massive unemployment claims highlighted the grim economic toll of the pandemic.

From Tennessee and Texas to Ohio and Montana, a handful of governors around the country have announced plans to swiftly allow a return to business for some workplaces that had been ordered closed in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Those plans have drawn fire from public health experts and other governors who warn a premature easing of stay-at-home orders and business closures imposed over the past five weeks could trigger a renewed surge in coronavirus cases.

The debate intensified as the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 870,000, with nearly 50,000 deaths from COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, according to a Reuters tally.

Contrary to even White House objections, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, has cleared the way for gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo and massage parlors to resume business on Friday, followed by movie theaters and restaurants next week. South Carolina began to ease restrictions on Monday. Florida opened some of its beaches last Friday.

Some business owners, despite the financial blow of the forced closures, were less than enthusiastic about reopening just yet.

“No way is it safe,” said Michael Sponsel, 39, owner of the Freedom Barber shop in Atlanta, the capital and largest city of Georgia. “Not for my barbers, not for my customers. We looked at the numbers and they don’t look good.”

He told Reuters he planned to keep his doors closed.

Georgia has recorded nearly 850 deaths out of more than 21,000 cases, the 11th-highest fatality toll among the 50 U.S. states.

Others were more sanguine. Angie Bullman said she would reopen her suburban Atlanta hair salon on Friday and was fully booked for the weekend.