ATLANTA - Gov. Brian Kemp reaffirmed Thursday his plan to reopen the state, but is putting new guidelines in place for Georgia businesses as the public health emergency order has been extended to June 12. Those new rules are meant to enforce social distancing and be best practices for the health and safety of guests and employees.
The guidelines outline increased screening for sick employees, increased cleaning and sanitizing of certain areas, and establishes other rules, like asking workers to wear masks.
So, what can you expect if you were to go into one of those businesses as a customer?
Here are some of the most common questions and answers:
Q. How many people will be allowed in the store at a time?
A. The number of patrons depends on the size of the store. The state has laid out that 50% of the fire capacity will be allowed inside at one time. That's about 8 patrons per 1,000 square feet. That is about 360 people for the average supermarket and 2,000 to 4,800 for "big box" stores.
Q. Will cash still be accepted?
A. U.S. legal tender is still accepted at stores, but the state is urging people to use cards or even wireless cash apps such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. The idea is to reduce how much contact there is between the customer and the employees.
Q. Do I need to wear a mask?
A. Masks will help lessen the chance of transmissions of the coronavirus for those who are asymptomatic?
Q. Is the 6-foot rule still in place?
A. Yes, and many supermarkets and stores have marked off six feet as well as made aisles one way to help promote better social distancing.
Q. Will my service be the same for dine-in eating?
A. It will change. Expect the server to limit their rounds and don't be surprised if they just give you questioning "thumbs up" from across the room instead of visiting your table directly. The guidelines require wait staff to limit their interaction with customers.
Q. Will I be able to go to my favorite buffet or salad bar?
A. No, those are not allowed currently, but many are offering takeout services now. Check with those establishments for more.
Q. My favorite "grab and go" looks like they aren't stocked. Is there a shortage?
A. No, the guidelines actually require the establishment to limit the number of covered food items in those coolers. The staff will restock them more frequently during the day.
Q. My table is not cleaned yet, what do I do?
A. Don't sit down yet. Let the staff clean and sanitize the area. Then, allow it to dry. This might require a little more patience than normal, especially if the restaurant is at capacity
Q. Why isn't there any silverware on the tables like before?
A. The guidelines require the silverware to be brought after seating.
Q. I used to be able to get my own drink. What gives?
A. Employees are now required to do that to limit the number of people touching those areas.
Q. Why do the menus look different?
A. Some places are still operating off a limited menu, but also the guidelines encourage them to provide disposable ones over reusable menus to help limit contact between customers.
Q. Will I be sitting next to another party?
A. The 6-foot rule applies to restaurants as well. Tables should be about six feet apart and the dining room should utilize physical barriers between parties whenever possible. If you have concerns, you can politely bring them up with the staff. In addition, the state is encouraging reservation-based service, so people are not congregating in front of the business. Also, parties cannot be larger than six people. Always check with the business prior to going.
Q. How is seating going to work?
A. That will be determined by each establishment, but the guidelines require people to sit six feet apart and there shouldn't be more than six people per party. There should be an usher in the theater at the start and end of the show to ensure social distancing is being followed.
Q. What about food at the theater?
A. Theaters serving food must follow the same health and safety guidelines as restaurants. While in line, please make sure to abide by the marks on the flood to guide in social distancing.
Q. Are theaters allowed to have parties again?
A. The party rooms are not currently allowed to operate. In addition, any arcades and playgrounds will be closed.
Q. What are the limits on the number of people per gym?
A. That has a lot to do with the gym size and the way it has been set up. Each establishment will have signs notifying members.
Q. How will each machine be disinfected?
A. The establishment will provide sanitation wipes near the machines and will perform routine sanitation of the stations frequently.
Q. Will there be group classes?
A. To aid with social distancing, group classes are suspended.
Q. What about childcare?
A. No, in facility childcare services will not be available.
Q. What other activities are currently prohibited?
A. Pools, basketball courts, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, tanning beds, and other group sports areas will be closed.
Q. Can I still use the locker room?
A. Those areas will be limited as determined by each establishment. When using showers, each patron must spray the shower down after.
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