» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia
Some of the busiest businesses were grocery stores, where families, some clad in masks and gloves, continued to stock up.
The Walmart on Gresham Road in south DeKalb County was crowded with shoppers early Saturday afternoon. Paper goods aisles were completely bare.
Letrice Anderson, 39, said she stocks up on food every month, so the grocery panic didn’t overwhelm her. But her retail job hours were cut in half due to the virus, to just 20 hours, Anderson said.
“That’s the downside to me to this whole epidemic,” she said while loading groceries into her car, adding that “not being able to find masks is a problem.”
Wearing plastic gloves to push her cart, 67-year-old Theresa Cooper said the coronavirus has changed her lifestyle: “I normally don’t cook, but now I do.”
Others took advantage of the breezy spring weather to stroll through local parks, trails and the Beltline, but some saw signs dissuading them from visiting.
Parking was blocked off at the popular Cochran Shoals Trail on the Chattahoochee River. But walkers and joggers entered anyway.
At Piedmont Park, visitors were greeted with printouts announcing that playgrounds like Mayor’s Grove were closed.
Others milling around the Midtown park maintained a sliver of normalcy, even as public officials issued warnings about group gatherings.
About a dozen yoga students did crescent lunges a few feet apart from one another. A group of young women followed their trainer in a high-intensity workout. Two young men fished from a gazebo and a pack of teenagers sped by on baby blue Relay bikes. A little boy in a silky blue graduation robe smiled as a photographer took photos with the Midtown skyline in the background — “Kindergarten, here I come,” read one of his props.
Ed Lawrence, 60, walked with a friend and his dog, Yogi. The trio take the same route three times a week, and Lawrence, a lung cancer survivor, is determined to keep up the routine.
“I’ve got to walk every day,” he said. “I have to keep this one lung healthy.”
On a nearby stretch of the Beltline, the path was less crowded than normal for a sunny weekend, but it was still difficult at times for walkers to stay 6 feet away from one another — a social distancing plea from health officials. The outdoor patios of popular hangouts like New Realm Brewing Company or Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, however, were eerily empty.
Some have called on Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to close city parks and the Beltline to limit the virus' spread. A Bottoms spokesman said Saturday the mayor is continuing to monitor the news and consult with public health officials but for now "there is no plan to close the Beltline."
Crowds were drawn to the Gallery at South DeKalb, which unlike Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza and Mall of Georgia, chose to stay open this weekend.
Kenneth Barner came to the mall to purchase a pair of shoes for his daughter’s birthday, but quickly discovered that Foot Locker and Champs were among the businesses that closed. Nearby, a line formed outside clothing store Jimmy Jazz, which only allowed 10 people inside at a time.
“I shouldn’t be in here now, I feel,” said Barner, a 59-year-old service technician for GE. “I’m on my way home.”
Jason de Jesus visited the mall with his wife Chantel to “try to be a little bit normal.” But they left their three children at home.
» RELATED: How Atlanta families are coping with spring break
For some, the pandemic has encouraged new, more local connections.
On a leafy street in Sandy Springs, Chris Dalbec and his wife Alexandra Pajak played Motown tunes while they did yard work on Saturday. Their young son, George, played in the spray of a bubble maker. Neighbors stepping out of their homes to shake off a week’s worth of cabin fever dropped by to chat.
Since starting social distancing, Dalbec said he has talked to some neighbors more in the past week than in the four years or so since he moved into the subdivision.
“I’ve seen more people out for a walk than maybe ever,” Dalbec said.
The pandemic has forced many Georgians to postpone events.
Charlie Wang carried a bag of Chick-fil-A into Piedmont Park with two friends and a fuzzy white dog. It was his 30th birthday, and he had just delayed until June a party he had spent weeks planning.
“You’ve got to make the best of it,” he said.
Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.
Stay up to date with reliable information from the AJC about the coronavirus and our community. Sign up for our special newsletter that tracks the latest news. https://myaccount.ajc.com/ajc/preference