COVID-19 Response: DPH Restaurant regulations "advised," but amendments being considered

The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) has provided ConnectLocal with clarification some of the restrictions and regulations in place for businesses licensed as a restaurant.

As stated in a March 26 ConnectLocal article about impacts of Governor Brian Kemp's March 24 Executive Order, local business owners and officials have been working to determine how the Order's directives relate to real-life situations and circumstances. Among a series of questions posed by ConnectLocal to GDPH officials was a request for clarification on what specific Emergency Order directives have been issued that directly regulate the operation of restaurants.

"When questioned regarding which executive or public health orders in regards to the COVID-19 response specifically mandates restrictions or closures for restaurants or orders them to close dining rooms or only offer carry-out and delivery services, the DPH representative responded “There is a document for restaurants. It is my understanding it is being revised. I will send it as soon as I get it," stated this morning's article.

This afternoon, DPH contacted ConnectLocal, saying that restaurants have been "advised" to close their dining areas until further notice to protect the public." Local governments may mandate additional restrictions or closures, according to DPH.

As of March 24, neither the Stephens County Board of Commissioners, nor the Toccoa City Commission have implemented any restrictions or closures beyond what was ordered by Kemp's Executive Orders and the Orders of the DPH.

According to a DPH representative, the below quoted DPH guidance is the latest in effect, but there are possible amendments being made to DPH guidance for restaurants, and ConnectLocal will update this information as soon as any new information is available from DPH.

Here is a clarification from our environmental health section concerning dining areas:
Restaurants have been advised by the Health Department to close their dining areas until further notice in order to protect the public. The Georgia Department of Public Health has classified the COVID-19 virus an “imminent health hazard”. An “Imminent Health Hazard” is defined as a product, practice, circumstance, or event that may pose a significant risk of injury or illness to food service employees or to members of the public if not promptly corrected or halted (Georgia Food Service Rules and Regulations Chapter 511-6-1-.01(74))   
During this time restaurants may provide carry-out, delivery or drive-thru service if available. Local governments may mandate additional restrictions or closures by enactment of local ordinances which specify enforcement measures.
Voluntary compliance is sought in all cases, but individual cities and counties have provided citation power to code enforcement, sheriff’s departments and/or public health departments. At this time we are not actively seeking enforcement through citations.  Should the situation arise requiring enforcement, citations as well as permit suspension are options for compliance - Georgia Department of Public Health

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