The operators of more than 100 Georgia restaurants have signed a pledge not to reopen their dining rooms for service, even though the state’s governor has given the green light to do so.
The group of more than 50 operators of restaurants in Atlanta and Savannah took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday saying they agree it’s in the “best interests of our employees, our guests, our community and our industry” to keep their dining rooms shuttered.
“Recognizing that each operator faces incredibly difficult decisions on the path ahead, we affirm the fact that public safety is the top priority as we navigate this challenge,” the ad from the group calling itself #GAHospitalityTogether said. “Recognizing that each operator faces incredibly difficult decisions on the path ahead, we affirm the fact that public safety is the top priority as we navigate this challenge.”
The ad is signed by more than 50 restaurant operators.
Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association, said she understands the concerns of operators and supports their decision to reopen or to keep their dining rooms closed.
"The well-being of our industry workers and customers will always be a top priority of our organization," Bremer said. "We support our Georgia officials and we support our individual restaurants at this time."
About 59% of the state's restaurants have pivoted to off-premise-only operations during the crisis, and reopening dining rooms can take time, she said. She expects to see more restaurants open for on-premise operations by the middle of next month.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced earlier this month that restaurants could reopen their dining rooms this week, becoming the first state in the nation to do so after most on-premise dining had been suspended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Several days later, Kemp issued reopening guidelines, which mirror those set forth by the National Restaurant Association in calling for social distancing (even in restaurant break rooms).
Since then, a number of states have called for the resumption of dine-in operations, including Alaska, Tennessee and Oklahoma. On Monday, Texas announced that restaurant dining rooms could reopen Friday, but at 25% capacity.