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DeKalb County CEO, Decatur Mayor urge businesses to think carefully about reopening

Business COVID-19 Decatur Metro ATL

DeKalb County CEO, Decatur Mayor urge businesses to think carefully about reopening

On April 23, Kitchen Manager A. J. Thompson sits below The Imperial’s response to Governor Brian Kemp’s go ahead for restaurants to resume dine-in service April, 27, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA – Gov. Brian Kemp said many businesses can reopen starting today and made it clear that there’s nothing local leaders can do about it.

But that doesn’t prevent them from encouraging businesses to think carefully about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett issued statements encouraging the business community to proceed with caution, if they proceed at all.

Kemp said on April 20 that  “given the favorable data and enhanced testing,” gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists can reopen their doors on Friday, April 24. Theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27. Bars, nightclubs and live performance venues will remain closed.

Kemp said cities and counties cannot take actions that are more or less restrictive than the state’s actions.

“This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions,” Kemp said. “This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive. Over the next few days, we will continue to closely monitor existing and potential hotspots in our state.”

Many local restaurants have decided against reopening until there’s more evidence that the pandemic is subsiding.

Thurmond issued an executive order, effective today, April 24, intended to “lay out a path forward from the COVID-19 emergency for businesses, residents and citizens.”

“The order does not conflict with state orders, and provides a 30-day transition plan for the county,” the county said in a press release.

The order instead advises businesses to do the following:

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– Require workers to report when a member of their household is ill and not report to work.

– Consider implementing additional front-line pay and expanding leave policies while the state is under an emergency declaration.

– Encourage patrons to wear cloth face covers at all times.

– Obtain adequate personal protective equipment without interfering with supply to healthcare workers

– Enhance sanitation practices, including frequent daily cleaning of public spaces.

The county’s press release says, “Anyone witnessing a violation of the state or county executive orders is encouraged to contact Georgia’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-442-2681.”

Places of worship also are encouraged to continue offering services online.

“The order also requests the Georgia Department of Public Health to expand testing and contact tracing prior to the end of May,” the press release from the county says. “It also urges the governor, General Assembly and Georgia Department of Public Health to assist and support a rigorous investigation of the COVID-19 outbreak in southwest Georgia and disproportionate impact on African-American and other communities of color in DeKalb and the state.”

Mayor Garrett didn’t issue any orders, but she reminded the public that, “while the [governor’s] order allows these businesses to reopen, it does not require them to open.”

She “strongly encourages” Decatur businesses to think carefully about whether or not to reopen and weigh it against their ability to follow social distancing guidance from the CDC.

Garrett said Decatur is densely populated and is more susceptible to the spread of viruses. Decatur residents have mostly followed the social distancing recommendations and there have only been 23 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the city as of April 19.

“Social distancing isn’t a cure but it is a pause that slows the spread of the virus,” Garrett said. “The community has done a good job so far and I urge us all to continue our diligence as we work together to help flatten the curve.”

The city attached a poster with 20 Minimum Basic Guidelines businesses must follow when deciding to re-open.

“Questions or concerns should be directed to the Office of Brian Kemp Constituent Services 404-656-1776,” the press release from the city says.

While many local restaurants are opting to stay closed, one local restaurant announced it is planning to open on Monday.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in greater Decatur said it will open Monday and will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The company provided its plans for curbing the spread of COVID-19 within its establishment.

– Bad Daddy’s will follow all guidelines & recommendations from the local, state, & federal governments as well as the CDC.

– Prior to reopening a dining room, Bad Daddy’s will perform an intense and thorough cleaning & sanitizing of the entire restaurant.

– Bad Daddy’s will regularly disinfect all surfaces and will sanitize every table after every guest departs.

– Managers & staff will be required to wear masks & gloves, which will be provided by Bad Daddy’s.

– All staff will receive a health screening prior to returning to work and before every shift.

– Bad Daddy’s will rearrange its dining areas and all seating areas to achieve and maintain the 6-feet social distancing guidelines.

– Bad Daddy’s will also mark its floors with tape to clearly show guests where to stand when waiting. The tape on the floor also applies to the lobby, bar & restrooms.

– All tables will have a max of 6 guests at a time.

– All menus will be single-use only.

– All caddies, paper towels and condiments will be removed from all tables. Bad Daddy’s will bring out sanitized salt & pepper shakers as well as single-use mustard & ketchup upon request. Wrapped straws will also be provided upon request.

– Pens used for signing credit card receipts will be sanitized after every use.

Other businesses have said they don’t plan to reopen.

Twain’s Brewpub and Billiards said in a Facebook post, “We are trying to get back as soon as we can with a safe and worry-free system in place, but that does not seem to include dine-in service at this time. We will base any decisions on the best information that we can get from health professionals and collected data.”

Ditto for Leon’s Full Service.

“Like most of you, we are eager to get back to some semblance of normal,” the company announced. “We are eager to get back to what we love just about more than anything: serving you in our restaurants. However, we have made the choice, for now, to keep our doors closed despite restrictions being relaxed this weekend. We are making plans and assessments based on our people and the data & guidelines by health officials and scientists. We will not make these decisions based on dollars alone. Our priority remains the health and safety of our family and yours.”

To see a list of businesses that are choosing to remain closed for now, click here.

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