Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dunwoody becomes latest city to prohibit in-restaurant dining

The Dunwoody City Council voted Wednesday evening to prohibit in-person dining at local restaurants, a measure aimed at preventing large gatherings and stemming the spread of coronavirus.

The new restrictions will become mandatory at 9 p.m. Friday and last for 30 days, unless amended. Under the ordinance, restaurants in the northern DeKalb County city will only be able to offer takeout and pick-up orders and must work to keep customers and employees six feet apart as much as possible. 

Restaurants will alcohol licenses will also be permitted to sell unopened bottles of wine and beer for off-site consumption.

Mayor Lynn Deutsch called it “the hardest thing we’ll ever do.”

“We are in the middle of a public health crisis,” she said. “And we need to encourage people to stay home and we need to discourage people from gathering.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know about coronavirus in Georgia

The City Council made its decision during a special called meeting conducted via teleconference early Wednesday evening. In another meeting earlier in the day, the council had voted to declare a local state of emergency, a move that expands their powers to address potential health and safety concerns.

The emergency declaration also included statements urging residents to follow guidelines provided by federal and state health officials.

The move to restrict restaurant operations mirrors similar efforts across the country and locally, including in the nearby city of Brookhaven. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, and President Donald Trump has suggested keeping crowds to less than 10 people. 

Deutsch said she’d like to see the state of Georgia lead the way on restricting restaurants and other public gatherings but, earlier Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp said he didn’t yet plan to impose restrictions on bars and restaurants. 

As of lunchtime, Georgia had 197 confirmed coronavirus cases. 

Another DeKalb city considering measures

The city of Doraville, meanwhile, appears poised to adopt measures that go beyond restaurants.

During a virtual Wednesday night meeting, Mayor Joseph Geierman declared a state of emergency and the City Council expressed support for a measure that would put takeout restrictions in place until the end of the month -- and also order massage parlors, nail salons, gyms and sports clubs and events facilities that can host gatherings of more than 10 people to cease operations over that time period. 

The council could adopt the ordinance -- which would go into effect at 5 p.m. Saturday -- during a meeting scheduled for Thursday evening. 

“I would like for our governor to provide guidance for the cities,” Councilwoman Rebekah Cohen Morris said. “But in the absence of that leadership in giving us a strong direction, I think that it would be prudent of us to step up and make these kinds of restrictions.”

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