Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms lifted the city’s indoor mask mandate on Monday, as COVID-19 cases continue to decline and Atlanta enters the “green zone”. Atlanta’s color-coded system, implemented over the summer, states that over the course of 10 days a test positivity rate of between 1 and 5 percent with cases averaging 20 to 75 per day must be achieved to enter the green zone.
“Atlanta is officially in the Green Zone for #COVID19. While it makes me personally anxious, I’ve always said we’d follow the science,” Bottoms says in a tweet. “Thus, we are lifting the city-wide mask mandate, but will continue to require masks in all City facilities. Please get vaccinated.”
Reaction on Twitter to the mayor’s decision to drop the indoor mask mandate is mixed. Some praised the move, with others calling it a “mistake” or mocking the lack of mask wearing seen in Atlanta over the last several months.
In July, during the height of the Delta surge in Georgia, Bottoms signed an executive order requiring all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors in public places, including within private businesses and restaurants.
New to this latest mask mandate were fines of up to $50 for individual noncompliance, something Bottoms was previously unable to enact under the governor’s public health emergency powers last year. Governor Brian Kemp allowed Georgia’s public health state of emergency to lapse in June, ending his powers under the order to override or block local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. Kemp later signed an executive order prohibiting local governments, like Atlanta, from enforcing any type of COVID-19 mandate on private businesses or imposing fines for noncompliance.
Once again, the decision to enforce Atlanta’s mask mandate fell on individual business and restaurant owners, many of whom initially chose to adopt the city’s COVID policy for both staff and patrons.
With the lifting of the mask mandate, COVID-19 boosters widely available for most vaccinated people, and children as young as five now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, some Atlanta restaurants could begin relaxing indoor mask policies, if cases continue to remain low. This includes Krog Street Market, which first implemented an indoor mask policy last year.
“Masks are no longer mandated, but still very much encouraged, especially for the unvaccinated,” a representative for the food hall tells Eater. “If guidelines suggest, we will bring them back.”
Eater reached out to several restaurants to inquire about mask policies moving forward given the lifting of the citywide mandate.
Check with individual Atlanta restaurants and bars regarding COVID-19 mask, seating, and vaccine policies currently enforced. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot, click here.