Decatur shuts down on-premises dining at restaurants
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
Late Thursday afternoon Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett issued a Public Health Emergency Order prohibiting on-premises dining in restaurants. This comes after earlier in the day Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered the closure of that city’s restaurants, bars, nightclubs, private social clubs, fitness centers, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades.
Decatur’s Emergency Order takes effect immediately and lasts through April 16 unless extended by city commissioners. It does allow for takeout and delivery services between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. It also allows restaurants with a current alcoholic beverage license to sell drinks to take off-premises in sealed containers. The order also prohibits gatherings exceeding 50.
Garrett said she’s spent most her week on the phone conversing with officials from the DeKalb County Board of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the city of Atlanta, the Georgia Municipal Association, the governor’s office and even White House.
“It’s just become pretty clear we have to take strong measures,” she said. “Everything we’ve heard tells us social distancing is absolutely critical. It also helped us knowing that a much larger jurisdiction (Atlanta) had taken action.”
Decatur is at least the fifth Georgia city to close restaurants and bars in response to coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week Brookhaven banned all dine-in services and Clarkston is prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people and in-person dining at restaurants.
The Georgia Restaurant Association doesn’t know how many restaurants Decatur has (there are about 1200 in DeKalb County), though city officials believe it surpasses 100 within a compact 4.2 square miles. Karen Bremer, the GRA’s chief executive said Thursday that statewide restaurants average 38 employees per restaurant, likely meaning there are roughly 4,000 Decatur restaurant employees affected.
She added there are about 19,000 restaurants in Georgia, translating to 500,000 restaurant employees or 10 percent of the state’s workforce.
But the shuttering of restaurants also profoundly affects customers. Bremer said that beginning in 2015 Americans started spending more money in restaurants than groceries, and today 53 cents of every food dollar is “spent away from home.”
Bremer added that on Friday the GRA is sending a letter to all statewide elected officials asking them to allow restaurants to sell beer and wine a la carte, similar to Decatur.