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Georgia Governor Finally Releases Restaurant Guidelines Ahead of Monday’s Reopening Day

Under Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan, restaurants must follow 39 new guidelines in order to offer dine-in service

Dining room at Ecco in Buckhead
Ecco in Buckhead isn’t reopening next week
Shelby Gordon

As a growing list of restaurants continues to declare intentions not to reopen next week due to health and safety concerns, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is moving ahead with his plan to reopen certain businesses, beginning this Friday, in order to kickstart the state’s economy. This includes allowing restaurants to resume dine-in service starting at 12 a.m. on Monday, April. 27

Gov. Kemp released a list of 39 guidelines on Thursday evening for restaurants to meet what he calls “minimum basic operations.” As predicted, those guidelines require employees to wear masks or face coverings at all times, screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms and fevers over 100.4, staggering shifts, and spacing out tables and bar seating in the dining room to allow six feet between other seating arrangements.

Here’s a list of other notable guidelines restaurants must try to meet in order to reopen:

  • Allowing only ten patrons per 500 square feet in dining room, waiting area, bar area
  • No self-service drink, utensil, or condiment stations
  • Encouraging the use of disposable menus
  • Discontinuing salad bars and buffets
  • Thoroughly sanitizing tables and any other commonly used items by guests
  • Using rolled silverware and no presetting of tables
  • Limiting parties to no more than six people per table
  • Encouraging reservation-only
  • Posting signs at the entrance stating no one is allowed in the restaurant who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or a fever over 100.4
  • Using contactless pay options when possible
  • Providing hand sanitizer or additional hand-washing stations for staff and patrons
  • Not allowing people to congregate in waiting areas
  • Prioritizing takeout and delivery over dine-in service when possible

Read the full executive order entitled “Providing guidance for reviving a healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19” here.

So far, a small number of Atlanta-area restaurants have confirmed plans to reopen for dine-in service on Monday, April 27, or next week. Local Waffle House locations hope to reopen for limited dine-service by Monday, or once they have processes in place to implement Gov. Kemp’s new guidelines.

A representative for Castleberry Hill spot Escobar Restaurant & Tapas told Eater Atlanta on Thursday morning it also plans to reopen on Monday and has purchased an infrared thermometer to perform temperature checks on employees before each shifts.

Northwest of the city, the Marietta Daily Journal reports that restaurants including Douceur de France, Marietta Diner, and Marietta Pizza Company do plan to reopen, though some are awaiting further guidelines from the Georgia government. At Marietta Square Market, patio seating opens Wednesday, April 29, though dining inside the market remains closed until the end of May.

During a COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday evening, President Donald Trump doubled down on his rebuke of Gov. Kemp’s plan to reopen businesses and restaurants across Georgia. “I want the states to open much more than he does. I didn’t like to see spas open, frankly, I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening. I wasn’t happy with it,” the president said. “I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy.” Pres. Trump apparently considered blocking Gov. Kemp’s order to allow businesses to reopen, but is opting to take a wait-and-see-approach.

Georgia’s shelter-in-place order is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

If you know of other metro Atlanta restaurants reopening for dine-in service Monday or next week, send Eater the details to atlanta@eater.com to confirm.


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

Marietta Square Market

68 North Marietta Parkway Northwest, , GA 30060 (404) 888-9000 Visit Website

Waffle House

1099 Northside Drive Northwest, , GA 30318 (404) 823-8358 Visit Website

Marietta Diner

306 Cobb Parkway South, , GA 30060 (770) 423-9390 Visit Website