- Over 50 restaurant operators in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, which collectively own over 120 restaurants, took out a full-page ad in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday saying they won’t be opening despite the governor’s go-ahead, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- “We agree that it’s in the best interest of our employees, our guest, our community, and our industry to keep our dining room closed at this time,” the group, which is using the hashtag #GAHospitalityTogether, said in the ad.
- Nearly 60% of Georgia restaurants switched to off-premise only operations during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association told Restaurant Business. She expects to see more restaurants open for on-premise operations by the middle of May, saying that the “well-being of our industry workers and customers will always be a top priority of our organization. We support our Georgia officials and we support our individual restaurants at this time.”
Many independent restaurants have said that it is too early to begin reopening their dining rooms, and some Atlanta owners have called the Georgia governor’s decision “irresponsible” and “unsafe.” The White House’s guidelines recommend waiting to start reopening until there has been a 14-day downward trajectory in confirmed cases, which hasn’t yet occurred in Georgia. Its total cases are over 25,000 as of today, although its newly confirmed cases started to decline starting April 20.
Reopening comes with a lot of caveats, and Georgia restaurants will have to follow many regulations such as limiting 10 patrons per 500 square feet, restricting table size to six people, using pre-rolled silverware and removing items from self-service stations. Many restaurants will need time to put these regulations in place.
“During this transitional period we are all in, Georgia's restaurants request respect, patience and understanding with regards to the pace of reopening,” the Georgia Restaurant Association said in a statement on its website. “Some may be ready and choose to welcome diners on April 27, while many will need additional time to confirm their individual supply chain, restart new operational standards, and ensure the safety of their staff and guests.”
Ensuring the safety of employees will remain a top priority, especially with some workers contracting the virus across a handful of chains like Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Other restaurants could wait until some of these restrictions are eased further, especially in places where capacity will be reduced significantly. In Texas, for example, dining rooms are capped at 25%, which some restaurant owners say isn’t enough to sustain operations and pay employees.