Georgia's Waffle Houses among restaurants to reopen first in the state despite criticism

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Waffle House, known for both its fluffy waffles and its dedication to remaining open during natural disasters, is unsurprisingly one of the first chains to reopen for limited dine-in service after the state lifted some coronavirus restrictions.

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The Georgia-based diner chain resumed dine-in service at many of its 400 restaurants in the state on Monday. A spokesperson for Waffle House, Njeri Boss, told The Associated Press that 330 of the restaurant locations across Georgia had remained open for takeout during the lockdown.

Some restaurants in the state are remaining closed, calling the move to reopen dangerous and “completely illogical.”

Some restaurants in the state are remaining closed, calling the move to reopen dangerous and “completely illogical.” (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

As part of the loosening restrictions on non-essential businesses, restaurants must abide by a 39-requirement list issued by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Among them, employees are required to wear masks and customers must be limited to 10 people per 500 square feet, to ensure social distancing.

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However, not everyone is on board with the state's soft reopening of businesses after month-long closures.

President Donald Trump and health officials warned against allowing non-essential businesses to open up so soon due to a possible surge in coronavirus infections.

The Georgia-based diner chain resumed dine-in service at many of its 400 restaurants in the state Monday.

The Georgia-based diner chain resumed dine-in service at many of its 400 restaurants in the state Monday. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

Stacey Abrams, former Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, called the decision “dangerously incompetent.”

“There’s nothing about this that makes sense,” she said. “The mayors of Atlanta, Albany and Savannah have all questioned the wisdom of doing this. And the fact is the governor didn’t consult with mayors before making this decision.”

Citizens have also criticized the move as being too soon.

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Some restaurants in the state are remaining closed, calling the move to reopen dangerous and “completely illogical.”

"You're talking about people putting their mouths on things in your restaurant. You now have dirty dishes going back into your kitchen. To me, it's just completely illogical," Alex Brounstein, the owner of Atlanta-based burger chain Grindhouse Killer Burgers told The Associated Press.

The shutdown imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus has caused tremendous damage to the economy, and the governor said it was time to start letting people get back to work. The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that 1.1 million workers — about one-fifth of the state's workforce — filed for unemployment in the five weeks since the crisis started.

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But public health experts have said a spike in new cases could follow if reopening happens too quickly; increased testing and diligent tracking of infected people's contacts would be needed to counter such a spike. Georgia has ranked in the bottom 10 of states for testing per capita, but some progress was made on that front last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.