Georgia’s shelter-in-place order for the public was allowed to expire Thursday, April 30, but Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s public health emergency through June 12. This includes requiring people over 65 and those considered “medically fragile” to remain home. The governor asks all “Georgians to continue to stay home whenever possible.”
Bars and nightclubs that do not serve food, amusement parks, and sports and concert venues remain closed through May 13. Businesses such as hair and nail salons and restaurants that have reopened for dine-in service must continue to comply with a set of state-mandated health and safety guidelines through at least May 13. Restaurants are currently limited to ten diners per 500 square feet inside the dining room and bar areas through that date. The ban on public gatherings of more than ten people not members of a single household remains in place.
It’s unclear if the governor will extend the guideline period on these businesses and restaurants beyond May 13.
This latest executive order also restricts local leaders, like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, from implementing more rigid safety measures for businesses and restaurants. The Atlanta mayor continues to urge the city’s residents to stay home.
To get around the governor’s restrictions, cities like Brookhaven, just north of Atlanta, are finding innovative ways to remain in compliance, while also providing restaurants with safer options for dine-in service. Brookhaven offers a 90-day Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Operations Permit. The no-cost permit allows restaurants to utilize tents, parking lots, and other outdoor spaces as potential seating areas.
Gov. Kemp is urging the public to wear masks inside businesses and grocery stores, and asks people to maintain up to six feet distance between others in public who are not members of the same household.
Read the governor’s full executive order here.
The CDC is recommending people wear face masks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while out in public, especially within enclosed spaces like restaurant dining rooms, retail shops, and grocery stores. Gov. Kemp suspended a state law banning the wearing of masks in public last month to comply with the CDC recommendation.
Some businesses have opted to require people to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer upon entering. Starting May 4, Washington-based megastore Costco will require all shoppers to wear masks that cover their mouth and nose.
“Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments,” Costco CEO Craig Jelinek says in a statement.
Costco has ten warehouses in Georgia, the vast majority of which are in metro Atlanta.
Hodgepodge Coffeehouse is requiring masks be worn while inside its two locations in East Atlanta Village and Reynoldstown. The coffee shop, owned by Krystal Rodriguez, provides disposable masks for those who do not have one, along with hand sanitizer.
“When you walk into either of our locations you will be greeted with hand sanitizer and disposable masks on a table by the door,” a post to Instagram reads. “Please use the hand sanitizer, pick up a mask by the elastic, and put it on. Each and every person in our four walls must have their nose and mouth covered for the duration of their entire visit, children included.”
The shop also sells cloth masks in both children and adult sizes. Masks cost between $4 and $10. These locally made masks can be purchased at the shop or online. Hodgepodge remains closed for dine-in service.
A number of Atlanta restaurants have chosen to remain closed for the time being, but will continue offering takeout and delivery. Atlanta restaurant owners were quick to react to the controversial news last week permitting close-contact businesses like hair and nail salons to reopen and restaurants to resume dine-in service. Most owners cite the health and safety of employees and patrons as the biggest factor for holding off on reopening for dine-in service, along with the need for adequate time to put the governor’s new list of 39 required guidelines into practice.
Several Atlanta-area restaurants have already reopened or confirmed plans to reopen for dine-in service over the coming week, once they have processes in place to implement Gov. Kemp’s new guidelines.
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.