More Than 50 Georgia Restaurant Owners Say They Won't Reopen As Gov. Brian Kemp Lifts Coronavirus Lockdown

More than 50 restaurant owners in Georgia have banded together to say their establishments will stay closed, despite Gov. Brian Kemp lifting some coronavirus restrictions in the state.

Restaurants in the state were allowed to resume operations on Monday as long as they followed a number of requirements, including limiting customers to 10 per 500 ft2.

But a group of restaurant owners in Atlanta and Savannah, who together operate more than 120 restaurants, have said they have no plans to reopen right now.

Operating under the hashtag #GAHospitality, they prepared a statement published as a full-page paid advertisement in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper on Tuesday.

The statement also notes the responsibility of restaurant owners in managing their businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and their duty to safeguard the health of employees and visitors.

"We agree that it's in the best interest of our employees, our guest, our community, and our industry to keep our dining room closed at this time," the statement said.

Customers wait for their table as they stand outside a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia on April 27, 2020 Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The statement was drafted by Ryan Pernice, the founder of RO Hospitality, which operates restaurants including Table & Main in Roswell, Georgia. He has been contacted for comment.

The #GAHospitality advertisement lists the name of each restaurant owner who has decided not to reopen along with their establishments.

Among them is award-winning chef Linton Hopkins, who owns Atlanta-based Hopkins & Company restaurant group with his wife Gina. The company's restaurants include Holeman and Finch Public House, Hop's Chicken, C. Ellet's and four H&F Burger locations.

Hopkins told Newsweek that he wanted to join the group of restaurant owners speaking out because "our industry is not one voice, we are many."

"Our group's ideas and needs are different than others and there is room for every voice in this dialogue and we wanted our voice to be heard," Hopkins said.

"Within this group we are independent and will continue to pursue our independent paths on reopening though we were unified in not opening right now. We are open to many ideas and wish to collaborate on the best way to move forward safely."

My fellow Atlantans, please do not mistake our @GovKemp’s allowance of these businesses to reopen as justification for gathering at these businesses. The data shows we are not close to being through this. The death toll will rise because of this. #prayer

— Linton Hopkins (@chefhopkins) April 24, 2020

On Friday, Hopkins took to Twitter, urging Atlanta's residents to refrain from gathering at businesses that have been permitted to open.

"My fellow Atlantans, please do not mistake our @GovKemp's allowance of these businesses to reopen as justification for gathering at these businesses," he wrote. "The data shows we are not close to being through this. The death toll will rise because of this."

Kemp announced last week that he would start to relax restrictions in Georgia despite not meeting the White House's criteria for states to have a 14-day decline in cases before reopening.

On Friday, businesses including gyms, barbershops and nail salons started seeing customers.

His decision to start reopening businesses was initially supported by President Donald Trump. But the president later offered a sharp rebuke and told reporters that he disagreed "strongly" with the move.

Georgia has more than 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and at least 1,000 deaths, according to the latest figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of April 28.

This infographic shows the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

This article was updated with comment from Linton Hopkins.

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