Coronavirus: Governor Kemp will allow Georgia restaurants to remain open

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Georgia restaurants will remain open in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, at least for the time being.

The office of Governor Brian Kemp on Monday is expected to release a statement that does not call for the mandatory closure of restaurants and bars in the state, a source told Atlanta Business Chronicle. As of Sunday evening, Kemp did not plan to close Georgia restaurants and bars at any point in the near future.

However, reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak is fluid. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sunday announced a citywide state of emergency and a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people through March 31. Within an hour of the announcement, Bottoms offered an update noting the Centers for Disease Control's latest recommendation to prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

Ohio and Illinois have mandated that bars and restaurants in those states close to stop spread of the virus. The state of Washington is expected to follow suit, according to the Seattle Times.

In its latest report on the outbreak, published at noon Sunday, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 99 cases of COVID-19 in the state, with one death. The majority of these cases come from metro Atlanta counties. Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb counties have a combined 49 confirmed cases.

The outbreak has hit Georgia's dining industry hard, and restaurateurs have moved to alter their business models, transforming sit-down establishments into take-out and delivery operations as a way to keep social-distancing customers coming. A significant drop in sales amid the outbreak is expected. Some restaurants already have voluntarily closed in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.