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Georgia Governor Lifts More Restrictions on Restaurants, Including Allowing Buffets to Reopen

Capacity limits at Georgia restaurants will be lifted as of June 16, and bars will be allowed up to 50 people or 35 percent total capacity

Miller Union
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 restaurants will no longer be required to limit the number of people in a dining party or adhere to capacity limits per square foot in the dining room, beginning Tuesday, June 16. Bars will also be allowed up to 50 people or 35 percent total capacity, starting next Tuesday.

The new executive order, in effect through June 30, came down from Gov. Brian Kemp late Thursday afternoon, and provides further details for buffets and salad bars.

The following is a list of updates to the previous executive order for restaurants and bars, effective June 16:

  • Restaurants no longer have a party limit.
  • There is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot in a restaurant. However, restaurants must maintain six feet distance between seated parties.
  • Bars can allow up to 50 people or 35 percent total capacity, whichever is greater.
  • Employees are no longer required to wear masks at restaurants, banquet halls, and private event facilities unless engaging directly with patrons.
  • Restaurant workers are permitted to serve food to patrons “cafeteria-style” from salad bars or buffets or the restaurant can install sneeze guards, provide hand sanitizer, and replace shared utensils frequently to allow people to serve themselves.

In addition to rolling back some of the social distancing and safety restrictions for restaurants and bars, the public is now allowed to gather in groups of no more than 50 people and movie theaters do not need to limit the number of people in a party seated together.

The governor began rolling back restrictions on restaurants across the state in mid-May, including increasing the party size at restaurants from six to ten people per table and the dining capacity to ten patrons per 500 square. Beginning June 1, Georgia’s bars and nightclubs could begin reopening. Like restaurants, bars needed to follow 39 mandatory safety requirements in order to reopen, including limiting capacity to 25 people or 35 percent of total occupancy and allowing parties of no more than six people.

Other than the changes listed above, it appears all other health and safety requirements for restaurants and bars remain in place.

Further easing of restrictions for restaurants and bars comes a little over two weeks after the Memorial Day holiday weekend and, according to the AJC, on a day Georgia health officials reported the highest increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state since May 1.

Read the full executive order below.

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.