Atlanta mayor closes restaurants to inside dining

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ executive order, which bans in-person dining at restaurants in the city. 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered on Thursday the closure of all in-person dining in restaurants. She also shut down all bars, nightclubs, private social clubs, fitness centers, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades within the city limits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bottoms posted a copy an executive order declaring that the coronavirus presented “an extreme likelihood of the destruction of life” on Twitter shortly after 10 a.m.

In her tweet, Bottoms said that the order would go into effect at 12 a.m. on Friday.

Under the city’s charter, the mayor has the power to exercise “extraordinary police power in times of emergency.”

The order contains provisions that allow cafeterias in hospitals and nursing homes to remain open and for restaurants to still provide delivery, takeout and drive through food service.

Bottoms also signed an administrative order suspending parking enforcement to more easily enable restaurants to provide takeout services.

Atlanta is at least the fourth city in Georgia to close restaurants and bars in response to coronavirus pandemic. Brookhaven banned all dine-in services earlier this week. The Clarkston City Council, in DeKalb County, approved a resolution on Tuesday prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people and in-person dining at restaurants.

On Wednesday, the Dunwoody City Council adopted an emergency ordinance banning in-person dining effective 9 p.m. Friday.

Bottoms’ order affects roughly 3,000 restaurants that employ about 100,000 people, said Karen Bremer, chief executive of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

But the order’s immediate economic impact is tough to gauge because roughly 70 to 80 percent of restaurants have already closed, Bremer said.

“Pretty much everybody is making their last payroll this week,” she said.

Bottoms’ move prompted immediately praise from Emory Healthcare President and CEO Jonathan S. Lewin, MD.

“Mayor Bottoms has taken courageous steps today to help protect the citizens of Atlanta,” Lewin said. “Her bold actions will directly save many lives across our city, and we hope that others around metro Atlanta will follow this example to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure our health care infrastructure can meet the needs.”