Brookhaven temporarily allowing tents to help restaurants reopen

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. — Brookhaven is changing the rules, temporarily, to make it easier for some restaurants to reopen under strict COVID-19 social distancing rules.

Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed restaurants to open for dining and theaters to reopen, but each facility must follow strict guidelines. Restaurants alone must follow nearly four dozen rules that include spacing out customers and eliminating buffets.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst signed an executive order on Monday that includes a temporary outdoor restaurant operations permit. The permit allows restaurants to use tents in parking lots for seating, despite city code.

“We as a city cannot mandate anything more or less than the state’s order, but we can make the best of a bad situation. For the next 90 days, Brookhaven will embrace alfresco dining. With this executive order, restaurants have a unique strategy they can utilize to reopen, yet do so responsibly,” Ernst said in a statement.

Restaurants can apply for the temporary permit by email at no cost. Restaurants would then be allowed to set up 10-foot by 10-foot tents in their parking lots for up to 90 days.


Under the governor’s executive order restaurants were allowed to reopen their dining rooms on Monday under these conditions:

  • No more than 10 patrons per 500 square feet are allowed inside at once.
  • All employees are required to wear masks at all times.
  • Employers must screen and evaluate workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees and a cough or shortness of breath.
  • Restaurants must post signs that say no one with symptoms of COVID-19 can enter.
  • Party size is limited to no more than 6 per table.
  • Salad bars and buffets are no longer allowed.
  • Restaurants must use pre-rolled silverware.
  • Items must be removed from self-service drink, condiment, utensil and tableware stations and have workers provide those items to patrons.
  • Patrons must be kept separated while waiting to be seated through floor markings or waiting in cars.
  • Workers who show signs of illness can’t come in to work. Employees who have COVID-19 must self-isolate for 7 days and be fever-free and symptom-free for 3 days before coming back to work.
  • Employers must train employees on the importance of frequent handwashing, use of hand sanitizers and avoiding touching their faces.
  • Playgrounds must stay closed.