Restrictions put S.C., Ga. restaurants and bars in a tough spot

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:14 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In South Carolina, “last call,” is now a bit earlier than usual, but thousands of restaurants in Georgia are unsure whether they can stay open at all in the face of conflicting orders from the state and Atlanta city officials.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s latest executive order took effect over the weekend, banning bars and restaurants from selling alcohol past 11 p.m., although alcohol can still be sold in stores past that hour.

McMaster said the goal of the order is to slow the spread of coronavirus among younger adults after the state saw a 436% increase in cases in the 21- to 30-year-old age groups.

But it could be a hard hit to an already struggling industry.

“It’s definitely a lot more pressure along with the pandemic going on,” Aiken resident Quania Bush said, “and they’re just now opening. Now to have this restriction on top of it its gonna cause a lot more pressure that they did not see coming.”

Failing to enforce this rule could lead to a fine for Palmetto State bars and restaurants.

But in Georgia, thousands of restaurant owners are in a quandary on whether to stay open.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the city would return to Phase 1 of reopening and close down dining rooms again.

This despite the fact the Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order allows them to reopen with safety guidelines in place.

Over the weekend, the Georgia Restaurant Association — representing the state's 19,000 restaurants — issued a statement siding with the governor. It says the inconsistency in different orders has created confusion for small businesses already struggling to regain dine-in guests.

It goes on to say: “We are pleased that restaurants are allowed to reopen and are continuing to follow the recommendations set by the governor, CDC and Department of Public Health.”

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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