As Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) made the controversial decision to “reopen” the state in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Facebook post shared in late April 2020 urged readers to contact the governor’s mansion to request a tour — which were ostensibly canceled until further notice over coronavirus concerns:
On April 27 2020, the post shown above was not available — but copies of it were spread throughout social media in different, popular iterations. The text described how the original poster decided to request a tour of the Georgia governor’s mansion as a response to Kemp’s assertion that others in the state — such as hairstylists and bowling alley employees — could safely return to work:
Soooooo.. I did a thing.
Since Georgia is open now I called the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta and asked when it will be open for a tour. I would like to schedule one. A very irate staffer told me that there will be NO tours until further notice…
Hummmm.. I asked “and why is that??? Surely if nail salons and gyms are open today the mansion would. I find it very unamerican that my rights to visit my Government’s mansion would be infringed upon. Who is your boss?”
The irate woman replies.”There is a a nation wide pandemic and the Mansion is being closed for safety purposes.”
“Oh really??? You don’t say??? I still would like to schedule my tour please. The Governor himself said it was safe to come out.”
The irate lady hungup in my face
I have time today to play
404.261.1776. In case anyone else feels [like] having this question answered.
In the copies linked above, some sharers of the post altered the wording slightly and presented the post as if they themselves had written it:
So…I did something. Since the State of Georgia is now open, I called the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta and asked when it would be open for tours as I would like to schedule one. A very annoyed staffer advised that NO tours would be held until further notice. I then asked. “Why is that? Surely if nail salons, gyms and restaurants are now open with social distancing requirements, the Mansion should be open to the public. I find this very ‘Unamerican’ and an infrigement on my rights to visit my state’s Governor’s Mansion.” I also asked her who her supervisor was. The irate woman then replied, “There is currently a nationwide pandemic and the Mansion is closed for safety reasons.” “Really, you don’t say!”, I replied. “I still would like to schedule my tour, please. Governor Kemp advised in a recent public briefing that it’s safe to go out with proper social distancing.” The staffer hung up abruptly! Well, I have time on my hands. If you want to find out why the mansion remains closed, call 404-261-1776!”
Alright everyone. A couple things. If you came here looking for the Governor’s tour post.
1. YES I am the original person who made the Governor tour post. I am gonna assume there have been people imitating, perpetrating etc. and someone even said China is spreading my post🤷🏾♂️🤷🏾♂️🤷🏾♂️..lol.
2. Some of you were starting to go overboard and get a little crazy so I changed the privacy for that post back to friends only. When you accidentally go viral you gotta stop the flood gate at some point.
3. Yall, remember to check your voter status and make yourself heard. You may not be happy w the federal choices but there is always good that can be done in your own local government and community.
4. Stay safe everyone and enjoy your day. Wash your hands.
Overall, the claims are as follows:
- During the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, the state of Georgia “reopened” businesses in late April 2020 (true);
- The phone number 404.261.1776 could be used to contact the Governor’s mansion and request a tour;
- Georgia Gov. Kemp’s mansion remained closed during the COVID-19 pandemic for reasons relating to the pandemic, and;
- Although Georgia was allowing others to go back to work, the mansion closed for tours, indicating that the government of the state of Georgia acknowledged risk remained to people mingling in public spaces.
Of course, we called 404.261.1776. We were told by a recording that people who were “calling about tours to the mansion” should be advised it was “closed to the public until further notice,” and advised us to visit gov.georgia.gov/governors-mansion/tour-mansion. We did, and a message on the page not only confirmed that we were calling the correct number, it also reiterated that the governor’s mansion was closed “to ensure the health and safety of Georgia families”:
Tour the Mansion
**PUBLIC TOURS CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily canceling public tours until further notice to ensure the health and safety of Georgia families. https://gov.georgia.gov/news **
Archived versions of the page from April 21 and April 9 2020 featured the same message, indicating that the mansion had closed previously and had not re-opened. On March 30 2020, the page was again identical — the message was added at some point between March 9 2020 and that date.
The most recent pre-pandemic page read:
Tour the Mansion
Please make reservations for groups of 10 or more by contacting the Mansion.
In short, Professa Cross referenced the fact Kemp had notably “reopened” the state of Georgia (true), adding the claim that they had called the governor’s mansion (which you can call yourself at (404) 261-1776) in order ask about tours as the state was “opened for business.” That number did go to a line with a message confirming the second part of their claim — despite Georgia’s reopening of business, the mansion remained closed to public tours “for the health and safety of Georgia families.”