Georgia Governor Brian Kemp easing restrictions on businesses that were placed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That now includes dine-in service at restaurants. It does not include bars or clubs.
Kemp issued guidelines on April 23 to allow restaurants to reopen as part of his plan to restart the state’s economy. Kemp’s latest order requires restaurants to adhere to 39 guidelines, including screening employees for signs of illness, requiring all staffers to wear face coverings at all times, and limiting capacity to no more than 10 patrons per 500 square feet. Party sizes at tables are limited to no more than six.
The majority of Augusta’s local independent restaurant owners that spoke with News Channel 6 say they will take a ‘wait and see’ approach before reopening their dining rooms to customers. That includes popular spots like the ones owned by the Frog Hollow Hospitality group, Southbound Smokehouse and French Market Grille.
“I can’t imagine having a restaurant and being able to be socially distant,” said French Market owner Walter Clay. “We’ve got hostesses touching menus and we’ve got customers touching menus. We’ve got waiters picking it up. We can keep things sanitized, but only to a degree,” added Clay.
Many of the big chain restaurants in the area are reopening their dining rooms, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, part of the Bloomin’ Brands group and Jason’s Deli on Washington Road.
“We are limited to the amount of customers we can have, so as soon as these tables are filled up, no one else can come in and dine-in,” said Jason’s Deli general manager Yanna Felton.
Felton said they were so busy on Monday she had to call-in more employees than she expected to work.
“This has been a busy day for us,” she said.
“We weren’t expecting as many customers to come in, but it’s been a steady flow, so we are going to be prepared for phasing and more cleaning, more detailing, more sanitizing, because the more people that come in, the more we have to make those adjustments,” added Felton.