Bars and nightclubs allowed to reopen in Georgia

Gov. Kemp to allow bars and nightclubs to reopen in Georgia
Gov. Kemp to allow bars and nightclubs to reopen in Georgia(WTOC)
Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 10:31 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says on Monday, June 1, bars and nightclubs, overnight summer camps, summer schools, and professional and amateur sports will be able to resume operations and practices, all with social distancing and sanitation restrictions in place.

The Republican also extended a public health state of emergency, describing the road ahead as a “slow and careful transition to a new normal.”

The continued easing of restrictions comes as new daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Georgia are ticking upward after weeks of decline. Georgia has had more than 45,000 confirmed cases of the virus, according to state data. At least 1,962 people have died.

Back here at home, St. Patrick’s Day decorations are still out at Bay Steet Blues, a distant memory now from the last time things were somewhat normal for the bar.

As they prepare to reopen, they’re not rushing the process.

“We’re probably going to wait until Wednesday. We have some regrouping to do- cleaning and mainly rearranging furniture to accommodate for the new seating capacity and to accommodate social distancing,” said Bay Street Blues owner Bonnie Walden.

Their capacity will be cut about 35 percent, going from about 144 guests to 50. But they plan to keep it closer to 45 to stay on the safe side.

Walden said she hopes all the bar owners comply so that everyone is safe.

“We’re taking it very seriously. The important thing is that we’re open, and the next most important thing is everyone’s health and safety, and we want to do everything possible to ensure that. Even if we have to start out with a slow start- it’s a start, and I’m good with that. I’m just very excited to be back.”

Enforcing social distancing in a bar setting could present a challenge and it likely won’t look like a typical night at the bar, but Walden says they are ready.

“Our clientele here is a family here, so we know that we’ll have their full cooperation.”

The bars were some of the first to shut down and some of the last to re-open, but Bay Street Blues says they have been around for 20 years and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

They say on Wednesday they’re excited for their regulars to pull up a seat at the bar, and get a taste of normalcy.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. WTOC contributed to this story. All rights reserved.