Restaurant Reopening Toolkit

Everything You Need to Know Before Resuming On-Premise Service
Updated July 29, 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.


City of Atlanta | Office of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Executive Order (dated July 28, 2021)

Effective beginning July 28, 2021 (renewed every 72 hours at the Mayor's discretion).

According to the order, all persons in an entity or a public place shall wear a facial covering or mask over the mouth and nose at all times when indoors; 

  • Entity means any private business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization, including the curtilage thereof.
  • Public place means any place other than a personal vehicle, residential property, or an entity including the curtilage thereof

Facial coverings or masks are not required in the following circumstances:

  1. In personal vehicles or upon residential property;
  2. When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other members of the same household;
  3. When the individual has a bona fide religious objection to wearing a facial covering or mask;
  4. While drinking or eating;
  5. When a licensed healthcare provider has determined that wearing a facial covering or mask causes or aggravates a health condition for the individual or when such person has some other bona fide medical reason for not wearing a facial covering or mask;
  6. When wearing a facial covering or mask would prevent the receipt of personal services or performing work in the course of employment; 
  7. When complying with the directions of a law enforcement officer or for the purposes of verifying a person’s identity, such as when purchasing alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs or when engaging in a financial transaction;
  8. Children under the age of ten (10) years;
  9. When the individual cannot don or remove a face mask or face covering without undue assistance;
  10. At any polling place and no individual shall be denied ingress or egress to or from a polling place for failure to wear a facial covering or mask; and

According to the order, the enforcement will be:

  • A person will be first given a warning and chance to comply;
  • If person does not comply,
    • First Offense is $25 civil penalty
    • Second and Subsequent Offenses are $50;
  • Violations will not be issued to entity and shall not be taken against any owner, director, officer, or agent of an entity solely because of the failure of their customers to comply with this Order.
  • Every reasonable effort should be made to bring person to voluntary compliance before notice of violation issued.

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

The order requires people to wear a mask or face covering in:

  • City of Savannah government buildings
  • Hospitals
  • Early childhood centers
  • Elementary and secondary institutions
  • Guided tours within a vehicle, including cars, trolleys, buses, bicycles, quadricycles, scooters, low-speed vehicles, boats, carriages and pedicabs
  • Federally regulated transportation

All restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores and pharmacies in the city are strongly encouraged to require their employees to wear a face covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public. Anyone entering a commercial establishment in the city is strongly advised to wear a face covering or mask while inside.

Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp | Executive Order (

  • Effective from May 31, 2021 at 12:00 AM there are no guidelines for Restaurants, Bars, Event Venues, etc.
  • Restaurants may continue to maintain stricter restrictions based on their own company or corporate guidelines:

- No worker is required to wear face coverings;

- Where practicable, physical barriers at registers should be used;

- No minimum distancing requirements between tables, etc.

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

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

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated: How to Protect Yourself and Others (updated July 27, 2021)

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

Event Planning and COVID-19: Questions and Answers (updated July 14, 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 July 16, 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 June 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; Summary of changes June 10, 2021

  • Focus protections on unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers
  • Encourage COVID-19 vaccination
  • Add links to guidance with the most up-to-date content

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)

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

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.