Gov. Brian Kemp releases guidelines to reopen restaurant dining rooms beginning April 27

A 26-page executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp was released April 23 with guidelines to reopen restaurant dining rooms. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)
A 26-page executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp was released April 23 with guidelines to reopen restaurant dining rooms. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)

A 26-page executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp was released April 23 with guidelines to reopen restaurant dining rooms. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)

Gov. Brian Kemp announced April 21 that restaurants would be able to reopen dining rooms beginning April 27, and a 26-page executive order titled "Reviving a Healthy Georgia" was published the evening of April 23 with 39 numbered guidelines to safely reopen, among other recommendations.

According to the order, no more than 10 patrons can be inside the restaurant per 500 square feet of public space, which can include waiting and bar areas but excludes hallways, restrooms and spaces closed to patrons, like the kitchen. Proper social distancing measures should still be enforced even with dining rooms open, and restaurant employees are required at all times to wear face coverings, which should be cleaned or replaced daily, according to the order.


Here are the other guidelines for restaurant owners.

  • Screen and evaluate workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough or shortness of breath.

  • Require workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or seek medical attention.

  • Implement teleworking for all possible workers.

  • Implement staggered shifts for all possible workers.

  • Hold all meetings and conferences virtually whenever possible.

  • Train all employees on the importance and expectation of increased frequency of hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and provide clear instruction to avoid touching hands to face.

  • Discourage workers from using other workers' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.

  • Stagger workstations to avoid employees standing next to each other where possible.

  • Establish limit numbers to reduce contact in employee break rooms.

  • Prohibit handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace.

  • Increase physical space between workers and patrons.

  • Limit contact between wait staff and patrons.

  • Discard all food items that are out of date.

  • Discontinue use of salad bars and buffets.

  • If providing a grab-and-go service, stock coolers to no more than minimum levels.

  • Ensure the food safety manager certification of the person in charge is up to date, and provide food handler training to refresh employees.

  • Thoroughly detail, clean and sanitize the entire facility prior to resuming dine-in services, and continue to do so regularly.

  • Between diners, clean and sanitize table condiments, digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops and commonly-touched areas, and discard single-use items.

  • Use rolled silverware, and eliminate table presets.

  • Remove items from self-service drink, condiment, utensil and tableware stations and have workers provide such items to patrons directly wherever practicable.

  • Switch to disposable paper menus or clean, and sanitize reusable menus between each use by a patron.

  • Clean and sanitize restrooms regularly, check restrooms based of frequency of use and ensure adequate supply of soap and paper towels at all times.

  • Implement procedures to increase cleaning and sanitizing frequency of surfaces in back-of-house, and avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants.

  • Update floor plans for common dining areas, redesigning seating arrangements to ensure at least 6 feet of separation from seating to seating, and use physical barriers on booth seating when available.

  • Limit party size to six people at most.

  • Where practical, consider a reservations-only business model or call-ahead seating.

  • Remind third-party delivery drivers and any suppliers of internal distancing requirements.

  • Post signage on entrances that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted in the facility.

  • Where practicable, use physical barriers, such as partitions or plexiglass, at registers.

  • Use technological solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction: mobile ordering, mobile access to menus to plan in advance, text on arrival for seating and contactless payment options.

  • Provide hand sanitizer for use by patrons, including contactless hand sanitizing stations, when available.

  • Do not allow patrons to congregate in waiting areas or bar areas; design a process to ensure patron separation while waiting to be seated that can include floor markings, outdoor distancing or waiting in cars.

  • Mark ingress and egress to and from restrooms to establish paths that limit proximity for patrons and staff.

  • Where practicable, prioritize takeout and curbside pickup services over dine-in services.

  • Close all restaurant or dining room playgrounds.


The order also indicates that restaurant owners should, if possible, provide personal protective equipment, disinfectant and sanitation products as available and appropriate to their employees.

To view the full executive order, which includes guidelines for body art studios, gyms, fitness centers, hair salons and nail salons to reopen beginning April 24, see below.

By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.


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