As states begin to roll back shutdown measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a five-phase reopening plan for the city Thursday night.
The plan does not feature dates for when certain phases will be triggered. Instead, the city will progress from phase to phase “based on milestone metrics and recent data,” according to a news release from the city.
The announcement comes nearly a month after Bottoms created an advisory council to plan the city's eventual reopening. The council was created the same day that Gov. Brian Kemp announced the state would reopen at the end of April.
As of Thursday night, Atlanta remains in phase one: Stay at home.
Bottoms is continuing to urge residents to stay home except for essential trips, to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear face masks in public. Non-essential city facilities also remain closed during this phase.
Based on her plan, city data would need to show a consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the percent of positive COVID-19 test results over a 14-day period before phase two is enacted. In addition, hospital and critical care facilities’ capacity must remain above 50%.
Bottoms is optimistic that this phase could be entered next week.
“If new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue along the current downward trend, we could shift from the current stay-at-home phase (one) and into phase two next week,” the release said.
Phase two will continue the social distancing practices of phase one, but it will allow private gatherings of up to 10 people. Retail establishments will also be allowed to offer to-go and curbside pickups.
The city and City Hall will remain closed during phase two.
To trigger phase three, the previous metrics must continue and there must be the capacity to conduct 90 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 Atlanta residents per month. In addition, there must be 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.
Phase three will permit limited trips outside, with the exception of vulnerable populations. Food and retail establishments will be allowed to have limited occupancy inside their businesses, and workers who cannot work from home may return to work.
Small gatherings in public will also be allowed as long as social distancing is being followed.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.