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Georgia Bars and Nightclubs Must Remain Closed Through May 31

The governor’s new executive order increases the party size at restaurants from six to ten people and dining capacity to ten patrons per 300 square feet

The empty bar with color string lights at Ticonderoga Club inside Krog Street Market
The bar at Ticonderoga Club inside Krog Street Market
Ticonderoga Club
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

Georgia bars and nightclubs will remain closed until Sunday, May 31, at 11:59 p.m. Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement during a COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. He also extended the state-mandated guideline compliance period for reopened businesses and restaurants offering dine-in service through May 31. However, the governor’s new executive order increases the party size at restaurants from six to ten people per table and the dining capacity from ten patrons per 500 square feet to ten patrons per 300 square feet. All other guidelines remain in place.

The state’s public health emergency is still in effect through June 12, requiring people over the age of 65 and those Georgia residents considered “medically fragile” to stay home. A ban on public gatherings of more than ten people not members of a single household continues to be in effect across the state.

Under the new order, businesses such as hair and nail salons and restaurants reopened for dine-in service must continue complying with a set of state-mandated health and safety guidelines. Among the 39 COVID-19 requirements for Georgia restaurants to follow, the two most notable are the capacity limit in dining areas and requiring all employees to wear masks or face coverings.

Restaurants were permitted to begin reopening across the state on April 27. Since that date, several Atlanta-area restaurants have reopened or plan to reopen for dine-in service in the coming weeks.

Eater Atlanta is reaching out to Atlanta bar owners for their reactions to the extended closure period.

As with the previous executive order, this latest order restricts local leaders, like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, from implementing more rigid safety measures for businesses and restaurants in their cities and counties.

Mayor Bottoms has widely criticized Gov. Kemp’s decision to allow businesses like hair and nail salons to reopen and restaurants to resume dine-in service. At the end of April, she penned an op-ed for The Atlantic calling the relaxing of restrictions in Georgia “irresponsible” and said that it could possibly lead to unnecessary deaths in the state.

“Our hospitals may not be stretched to capacity,” the mayor wrote, “but that does not mean we should work to fill the vacant beds.”

Gov. Kemp is urging the public to wear masks while inside businesses and grocery stores or when picking up takeout food from restaurants. The CDC recommends people wear face masks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in public, especially within enclosed spaces.

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

As of 1 p.m., the Georgia Department of Public Health lists 34,645 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 1,461 confirmed deaths due to the virus.

Stay home if sick. Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases. Numbers are now updated three times a day.