Restaurant Reopening Toolkit

Everything You Need to Know Before Resuming On-Premise Service
Updated October 13, 2021

Our mission at the GRA is to serve as the voice of Georgia's restaurant industry in Advocacy, Education, and Awareness. Restaurants are the heartbeat of their communities and right now, our industry is facing challenges far greater than we could have ever imagined. The GRA is here not only to represent restaurants with elected officials and shape public policy in our industry's best interest, but we are also here as a resource to help you get through difficult times and hopefully thrive again in the future. We must move forward in thoughtful ways that can create a positive impact for our industry and in our local communities.The health and well-being of Georgia's restaurant owners, workers and customers is always a top priority of our organization. Restaurants are highly regulated, and we are already utilizing proven methods to prevent the spread of disease. There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transferred to humans through food. Continue to follow sanitation procedures outlined in the Georgia Food Code. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the Georgia Department of Public Health or CDC websites.

If you are feeling symptoms, please contact Georgia's COVID-19 hotline, 844-442-2681, or the screening number for your local hospital. If you or an employee tests positive for COVID-19, contact the Georgia Department of Public Health at 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584).

Please reach out to us for any additional information or assistance. We are here to help.


Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp | Executive Orders (dated September 20, 2021) 

Effective immediately as of August 19, 2021

  • The first Executive Order, extends the "Declaration of State of Emergency for the Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery" declared in Executive Order, for thirty days from its expiration date. This state of emergency will now expire at 11:59PM on September 28, 2021. The first Executive Order, extends the "Declaration of State of Emergency for the Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery" declared in Executive Order, for thirty days from its expiration date. This state of emergency will now expire at 11:59PM on October 28, 2021.
  • The second Executive Order, the "State of Emergency for Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery Regulatory Suspensions", extends and continues to suspend, or directs the governing Boards to suspend, certain state regulations to aid in Georgia's economic recovery from COVID-19.  

  • The third and newest Executive Order, the "Protecting Economic Recovery During the State of Emergency for Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery", here's what restaurants need to know:
    • Restaurants who remain open meet the definition of an "organization" per the Order.
    • Any "organization" MUST implement measures to protect their workforce and guests. Such measures MAY be:
      • Voluntary implementation of any local rule, order, or ordinance.
      • Any measures that have been proven effective to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    • No "organization" shall be compelled to follow any local rule, order, or ordinance related to COVID-19. (e.g. - local mask orders, occupancy, etc.)
    • No law enforcement agency shall compel an "organization" to follow any local rule, order, or ordinance related to COVID-19.
    • No "organization" shall be forced to shut down for violation of this Order, though violation is a misdemeanor.
    • Any local rule, order, or ordinance related to COVID-19 shall not be inconsistent with the Governor's Order. 

City of Decatur |City of Decatur Commissioners: Ordinance (dated August 16, 2021)

Effective beginning 8:00 a.m. on August 17, 2021 (Until 11:59 p.m. on September 27,2021) 

City of Atlanta | Office of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Executive Order (dated August 16, 2021)

Effective beginning August 16, 2021

Athens-Clarke County | Office of Mayor Kelly Girtz: Executive Order (dated August 3, 2021)

Effective beginning 8:00 a.m. on August 4, 2021 (Until 11:59 p.m. on September 8, 2021) 

This order will be enforced: 1. If confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Athens-Clarke County over the previous seven (7) days is equal to or greater than one hundred (100) cases per one hundred thousand (100,000) people according to the CDC; or 2. Until the Department of Public health reports a vaccination rate of 80% of Athens-Clarke County population. 

City of Savannah | Office of Mayor Van Johnson - Emergency Order (dated July 26, 2021)

Effective beginning at 8:00 a.m. on July 26, 2021 (Until 11:59 p.m. on August 25, 2021) 

National Restaurant Association COVID-19 Operating Guidance (updated July 2021)

Georgia Dept. of Public Health: COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants (updated April 14, 2021)

CDC Re-Opening Decision Tree for Restaurants (updated June 14, 2021)


National Restaurant Association

Legal Issues to Consider Regarding COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccine Policies (updated January 21, 2021)


Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Infographic Summary of Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Workers Who May Get Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Shots (updated October 4, 2021)

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (updated September 27, 2021)

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated: How to Protect Yourself and Others (updated September 16, 2021)

Guidance for Organizing Large Events and Gatherings (updated May 20, 2021)

Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers (updated September 24, 2021)

Considerations for Restaurants and Bars (updated June 14, 2021)

Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes

Frequently Asked Questions (updated September 13, 2021)

"Stop the Spread" Poster in nineteen languages


What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws (updated September 9, 2021)

Press Release: EEOC Issues Updated COVID-19 Technical Assistance (May 28, 2021)


Restoring Water Quality in Building for Reopening


Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Guidance posted January 29, 2021; Updated June 10, 2021

Summary of changes August 13, 2021

U.S. Chamber

How to Screen Employees for Coronavirus

Georgia Chamber

Background on Unemployment Insurance Under the CARES Act

Reopening Guidance Flyer

Customizable Healthy Workplace Flyer


Business Liability Protection

In 2021's legislative session, House Bill 112 was passed to extend SB 359's requirements through July 14, 2022.  HB 112 is currently awaiting signature by Governor Brian Kemp.

On August 5th 2020, Governor Kemp signed 
Senate Bill 359, which enables some protection for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses can post either (1) a sign at their entrance or (2) issue any receipt or proof of purchase for entry, including but not limited to an electronic or paper ticket or wristband, to a person upon entry. The ticket and poster MUST have specific language in certain size specifications, which can be found in section 51-16-3 (starting at line 108) of the bill. We have created files for a ticket and a poster that you can print and use for your restaurant. (If you would rather create your own poster, here's a helpful hint for font size: one inch = 72 point)

NOTE: This is not and should not be considered blanket amnesty for businesses. This protection will not help if proven that something happened because of a business’ “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.” You should continue to follow the Governor’s Executive Order and guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control.

Business Liability Protection Entrance Ticket (8.5in x 2.75in)

Business Liability Protection Poster (must be printed at least 18in x 24in)


Georgia Safety Promise

Show your guests you are committed to their safety.


ServSafe® has developed a number of free resources aimed at keeping our workers and the dining public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free Training Videos On-Demand. (Available in English and Spanish)

  • ServSafe® Takeout
  • ServSafe® Delivery
  • ServSafe® Reopening Guidelines
  • ServSafe® Conflict De-escalation


Guidance for Restaurants Responding to COVID-19 Positive Employee

**Reminder: Restaurants are classified as critical infrastructure**

Other references:


Interested in Setting up a Vaccine Drive?

Contact - Community for Organized Relief Effort (CORE), simply send an email to

Can I mandate Employees to get vaccine? 

Legal Issues to Consider Regarding COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccine Policies (updated January 21, 2021)

Tips on Asking for Vaccination Proof From the National Restaurant Association

Major cities across the country have either instituted or are considering mandates that require anyone planning to dine or work indoors at restaurants show proof they’re vaccinated and/or require face coverings. We are in daily communication with state and local public health officials, and at this time, such proof of vaccination is not mandated anywhere in Georgia. However, in the recent survey we conducted of our membership, we learned that some of you are interested in enforcing such a policy in your individual establishments. Before you ask your guests for proof of vaccination, be aware of and prepare for the legal and logistical ramifications involved in enforcing the policy. These tips from the National Restaurant Association will help.

Other Resources:


Free COVID-19 Guidance: Legal | Financial | Insurance

We are grateful for the support of our Corporate Partners and Allied Members. As a member of the GRA, our experts are lending their support free of charge to help address legal, financial and insurance related issues arising from the pandemic. This offer is only available to all Georgia-based and Georgia-located restaurants, and the only requirement is that your legal, financial or insurance issue be COVID-19-related. Areas of assistance include:

  • Alcohol regulations;
  • CARES Act/SBA Funding (PPP and EIDL loan applications, forgiveness and other issues surrounding the programs);
  • CARES Act Tax Credits
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Landlord/Tenant negotiations;
  • Unemployment (employer filing, furloughs, layoffs, etc.);
  • Restaurant and food safety;
  • Vendor negotiations;
  • and more.

To access this assistance, send an email stating your name, restaurant and a description of your issue. We will follow up in the order your email is received.


Georgia Department of Labor

Federal UI Program Update | Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Proof Submittal (updated July 27, 2021)

GDOL Reminds Claimants to Reapply When Benefit Year Ends (updated March 25, 2021)

State Extended Benefits (SEB) Program Ending (updated February 22, 2021)

Update on Federal Stimulus Bill, State Extended Benefits (SEB)  (updated September 28, 2020)

Information for filing for unemployment, mandatory filing by employers for partial claims, and reemployment services (updated March 27, 2020)

Georgia Department of Labor Expanded Rules and Resources (updated March 26, 2020)

Local Government

Local Government Ordinances, Licenses, Regulation + Waivers


U.S. Department of Labor: Essential Protections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Policy Tracker

White House Guidelines: Opening Up America Again


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Georgia Department of Labor | Unemployment – Employer

Georgia Department of Public Health

Restaurant Business Relief Initiatives

Latest Industry News

Rehire Letter Template


GRA Statement on Reopening Restaurants

The Georgia Restaurant Association appreciates Governor Kemp’s support of our restaurant community. The safety, health and well-being of Georgia's restaurant owners, workers and guests has always been the absolute top priority of our organization. We ask that restaurants and diners follow the rules set by the Office of the Governor. During this transitional period we are all in, Georgia's restaurants request respect, patience and understanding with regards to the pace of reopening. Some may be ready to welcome diners back, while many will need additional time to confirm their individual supply chain, initiate new operational standards, and ensure the safety of their staff and guests. (Updated July 31, 2020)

GRA Statement on CDC Report

"Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities" (CDC, September 2020)

Georgia's restaurants proudly serve millions of guests every day and follow food safety and sanitation guidelines set by the CDC, FDA, Georgia Department of Public Health and Governor Brian Kemp's executive orders.

We are aware of the latest CDC report in regards to in-person dining. We are also aware that the study came from a sample size of 314 participants in 11 different healthcare facilities across the United States. In addition, the publication states that ‘adults in the study were from one of 11 participating health care facilities and might not be representative of the United States population.’

For the past six months, Georgia's restaurants have struggled to keep their doors open. Those who are open remain deeply committed to serving their communities while providing a safe environment for their employees and guests.

We will continue to support all restaurants in their choice to allow in-person dining or not.