Businesses weary as city of Atlanta puts mask mandate in place over omicron variant

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an executive order to reinstate the citywide indoor mask mandate due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Bottoms also moved the city back into the yellow zone as omicron continues to sweep across the state and country.

On Tuesday, the state reported more than 3,700 new COVID-19 cases.

The new mask mandate is causing some concern for business owners across the city.

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At Taqueria Tsunami, the owner said business is finally picking up again right as the omicron variant is picking up too.

“You just never really know what’s going to happen with it,” said Alexis Kinsey with Fork U Concepts. “I try to stay optimistic. But I’m also very cautious.”

Spiking cases across the state is one of the reasons an Atlanta mask mandate is back in effect, even though most restaurants require staff to mask up anyway.

“We still have required masks for our employees to wear as far as our customers, you know, I think it’s up to them in terms of a preference,” Kinsey said.

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Across Atlanta, outbreaks have forced other restaurants to temporarily close while employees get tested.

Testing sites across the metro are filling up every day as fears grow about the more transmissible yet less deadly omicron variant.

Cases in Georgia have more than tripled since the start of the month, according to statistical data.

But doctors say it’s not a reason to panic.

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Dr. Bindiya Gandhi with Revive Atlanta MD said she’s hopeful this spike in cases won’t lead to the number of deaths and hospitalizations we saw with delta.

“You don’t have to freak out, you don’t have to get scared,” Gandhi said. “Hospitalizations are actually less, so far. And they haven’t really been any deaths from omicron compared to delta. So, there are some positive things even though it’s spreading a lot faster.”

At Char Korean Bar and Grill, Richard Tang said his employee mask mandate will remain in place. But he believes customers know how to protect themselves nearly two years into the pandemic.

“As it’s following the law and the law of the land. You know? I’m not going to engage with the guests and mandate they do anything,” Tang said.

Many restaurants are rebounding after a tough 2020 and they hope another surge won’t be as devastating.

“It’s important that people still support local businesses,” Kinsey said.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an Executive Order to reinstate the citywide indoor mask mandate and move the City...

Posted by City of Atlanta Government on Tuesday, December 21, 2021

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