Georgia governor loosens some COVID-19 restaurant restrictions

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 2:03 PM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As we continue dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, life is starting to return to some normalcy in Georgia.

This comes as Governor Brian Kemp joins other states in loosening COVID-19 restrictions, including some at restaurants and bars.

Kemp signed three executive orders Wednesday. One of the orders reduces the amount of distance restaurants and bars must seat their customers down to around 3 1/2 feet - 42 inches to be exact.

“Having added capacity will help restaurants be able to serve more people, therefore do better for their business,” said Mary Heisey, owner of Ruth Ann’s restaurant in Columbus,

Heisey said she’s seen that more and more people are venturing out for a meal outside of their homes.

“So, we need to be able to seat more tables in order to accommodate more people,” said Heisey.

“I feel very comfortable coming in here and sitting next to another table and eating. It’s perfectly great. I think it’s long overdue,” said Lisa Kean, a customer at Ruth Ann’s restaurant.

But not all restaurants are filling all the seats. Just ask the owners of Lemongrass Thai and Sushi in Columbus. While they’re filling stomachs with take out orders, the foot traffic hasn’t yet returned.

“Honestly, we don’t get that full because we don’t have enough people coming out really to fill the restaurants,” said Rodrigo Sardinas, owner of Lemongrass Thai and Sushi.

Sardinas said he thinks the dine-in numbers will go up, but we’re not there yet.

“I think probably you won’t see that change until more people start getting vaccinated and they feel more comfortable and they feel more safe going out,” said Sardinas.

Tony Key made Lemongrass his first dine-in experience since the pandemic started more than a year ago. He said the vaccine and fewer people are what gave him the courage to do so.

“I went to one place, and I didn’t go in because there were too many people. And so I ended up here with less people. So, I’m generally trying to get out slowly, but I don’t want to be around a whole bunch of people,” said Key.

“I think with the vaccine, with masks, with different things that we have, it’s a person’s personal choice how much risk they’re willing to take, give their condition,” said Heisey.

The order is effective starting April 8 until April 30. Customers and workers are still encouraged to continue social distancing and wear masks during this time.

Copyright 2021 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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