At the end of April, Governor Kemp gave the orders to lift restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 and reopen Georgia for business. Salons, movie theatres, shops, gyms, and state parks will be allowed to operate, but they won’t look quite like they did before. There are new restrictions in place to help keep the public safe as they start to emerge from their homes and go about their lives while still observing CDC guidelines.
A New Normal in Atlanta
Here's our guide to enjoying some of the best that Atlanta has to offer while staying safe.
The Great Outdoors in the City of Trees
Known for its incredible tree canopy, Atlanta is an excellent destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors. The metro-Atlanta area is dotted with state parks, nature preserves, national recreation areas, and memorial parks. The Sweetwater Creek State Park is just a short drive from downtown Atlanta. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking trails to explore the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company or visit the George Sparks Reservoir and do a little fishing. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area provides tranquil walks along the river and plenty of opportunities to spot the indigenous plants and animals protected on its land. Visitor centers, museums, and playgrounds will remain closed for the public’s safety. However, picnic gazebos are still available to rent for parties of 10 or fewer. Some parks will temporarily close when they reach capacity or limit the number of hikers on narrow trails. The Georgia State Parks website has the most up-to-date information on the parks, facilities, and safety restrictions. For park-specific information, please visit the park’s Facebook page.
A Night at the Theater
Streaming services have been bringing many of our favorite programs and movies straight into our living rooms throughout quarantine, but nothing really compares to a movie on the big screen. Movie theaters are buttering the popcorn, dusting off the projectors, and getting ready for film buffs to walk through their doors. There will be some new restrictions in order to comply with social distancing rules, but the movie experience will be largely unchanged. Each theatre will be responsible for ensuring there are at least 6 feet between movie-goers in each theatre. Ushers will check both before and after the movie to make sure social distancing is being observed. Theaters that offer snacks will be held to the same strict health expectations as restaurants. Gloves and masks must be worn by all employees, customers must stand 6 feet apart while waiting in line, and self-service stations will no longer be available. Other entertainment facilities within the theatre, such as arcades or playgrounds, will also be closed until further notice. Movie-goers that want to enjoy a big-screen experience from the comfort of their own vehicle, should check out the Starlight Drive-In which is open 7 days a week.
Out on the Town
Visitors and staycationers alike enjoy Atlanta’s vibrant culture and the plethora of leisure activities available. Though the novel coronavirus put a lot of these businesses on hold, they are now reopening steadily throughout the city. Travelers on a self-care mission will enjoy a jaunt around Atlanta salons, barbershops, and nail studios. Experiences at these establishments will feel a bit different. Both styling professionals and customers will be required to wear masks and sanitize before and after services. All equipment will be thoroughly wiped down and disinfected between customers. Every other station will be used inside salons to adhere to social distancing regulations.
After getting primped and pampered, visitors to Atlanta can enjoy a meal at one of the city’s numerous restaurants. Since restaurants are now required to limit their seating to half of their fire code capacity, reservations are encouraged. Many restaurants are offering text reservations as well as “order ahead” options to help keep safe distances between employees and diners. Other guidelines, including masks and sanitization stations, will be added to the new normal for restaurant-goers. Visitors will notice that many dine-out options will move to disposable or electronic menus to avoid cross-contamination and space tables at least 6 feet apart.
After dinner, guests can enjoy many of the leisure activities downtown Atlanta has to offer. Many local retailers are unshuttering their business and are open to shoppers. Check out local artisans and clothiers to support local businesses. Tourists and locals that are more active can head to the bowling alleys and rent a lane for a few frames. Bowling shoes and balls are not being reused between guests until they have been fully sanitized. After sheltering in place for so long, visitors that are newly out and about may want to express themselves or commemorate something important. Tattoo parlors are open, albeit at a limited capacity, to fulfill everyone’s wildest ink dreams. Masks, gloves, and proper sanitation have regularly been used in tattoo facilities, so visitors may not notice huge changes to their favorite parlors.