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Atlanta Parks and the Beltline to Remain Open for Now

The mayor intends to keep Atlanta parks and the Beltline open for now, and says residents can call 311 if restaurants or businesses violate the ban on public gatherings

Piedmont Park in the later afternoon Saturday, March 28
Piedmont Park in the late afternoon on Saturday, March 28
Ryan Fleisher
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

In a Tuesday conference call with the Atlanta City Council, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she continues to heed the advice of local health officials and infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos del Rio when it comes to closing area parks and the Beltline.

Del Rio has yet to recommend the closure of the city’s parks or the Beltline.

A message posted on the homepage of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation reads, “While Parks and Trails remain open, we strongly encourage everyone to practice Social Distancing and Stay Safe! We’re all in this together!”

On March 19, Bottoms ordered the city’s bars closed and limited restaurants to takeout only, after banning public gatherings of ten or more people. Last Thursday, the mayor ordered the city’s residents to “stay at home” until Tuesday, April 7, to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order allows public parks and trails, like the Beltline, to remain open, and restaurants to continue operating with takeout-only services.

However, several city council members on Tuesday’s call, including Michael Julian Bond, asked Bottoms to consider closing Atlanta’s parks and the Beltline, following another sunny weekend that saw people gathering outdoors to enjoy the warm weather. Bond, who says on the call “people aren’t getting the message” to stay home, is the Post 1 at-large representative overseeing Districts 1 through 4 in Atlanta. He is also a member of the Community Development and Human Resources and Public Safety committees.

District 2 council member, Amir Farokhi, representing Downtown, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, and Candler Park, took the matter further asking Bottoms what number residents should call if they witness a restaurant or business allowing people to gather. The mayor says residents can call 311, the number for non-emergency services in Atlanta.

It’s unclear what city officials will do or how they will enforce the executive order if a restaurant or business is caught violating the order, or whether such infractions result in a fine, being forced to shut down completely, or both.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bottoms ordered that city employees required to report to work during the COVID-19 outbreak in Atlanta will begin receiving $500 more per month in hazard pay. This includes police, firefighters, and essential employees at the departments of Watershed Management and Solid Waste Services, and those involved with city transportation and parks and recreation.

Eater Atlanta reached out to the mayor’s office for clarification on COVID-19 enforcements at restaurants. Eater also asked for clarification on a separate portion of the order allowing to-go sales of sealed bottles and cans of wine and beer at restaurants and whether it also applies to mixed alcohol drinks in sealed containers.

Check back for updates.

As of March 31 at 12 p.m., there are 3,817 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, with 108 reported deaths.

*Please practice safe and respectful social distancing measures via CDC guidelines by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people, not gathering in groups, and not sitting on restaurant patios to eat. Stay home if sick.

NOTE: The novel coronavirus situation in Georgia is fluid and ongoing. Follow Eater Atlanta for continuing coverage on COVID-19’s impact on Atlanta’s restaurant industry. Additional stories are forthcoming.

Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and twice-daily updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases.