Report: Gov. Kemp plans to allow restaurants and bars to remain open during COVID-19 outbreak
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Decatur, GA – Decatur bar and restaurant owners concerned about having to close during the coronavirus outbreak will soon get word from the governor that their businesses can remain open for now.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that Kemp will release a statement about restaurants and bars today, March 16, but it won’t call for them to close. The Business Chronicle said Kemp doesn’t plan to close these establishments right now. To read the story, click here.
There are currently 99 cases of COVID-19 reported in Georgia and 10 reported in DeKalb County, though the number is likely far higher due to limited testing. The number could change quickly. Emory Healthcare recently sent a message to employees saying Emory has seven “positive in-house admissions” of COVID-19 patients and 126 “persons under investigation.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommended halting public gatherings of 50 people or more.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said bars and restaurants “could be” ordered to close, according to the Washington Post.
He stopped short of calling for restaurants to close, but Ohio and Illinois have already done so.
Local cities could act, independently of the governor. On Sunday evening, March 15, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared a state of emergency in Atlanta and prohibited large public gatherings of more than 250 people. That was prior to the CDC’s new guidance.
The city of Decatur’s emergency code grants the city’s leaders similar powers, but there’s no indication yet that they plan to use them. While closing Decatur’s restaurants could contain the spread of the virus, it would be a devastating blow to the local restaurant industry and the local economy as a whole. Restaurant owners in Decatur said closing their businesses for an indefinite period could have catastrophic consequences.
The outbreak has already slowed the number of customers walking through their doors.
Some restaurants already are taking their own steps to combat the spread of the virus. Rising Son in Avondale Estates announced it will close its dining room and do call-in orders only starting on March 17.
“This was not an easy decision because our staff is our family and we are worried about them however we can not neglect their safety or the safety of our community,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post. “We feel we would be doing a disservice to stay open and that it could potentially do damage.”
At tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting, which will be live-streamed and limited to a quorum of three commissioners, Mayor Patti Garrett is expected to provide more details about the city’s response to COVID-19.
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