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Back to Phase One in Atlanta? Business owners must choose between advice of governor, mayor

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says its time to re-implement restrictions to control COVID-19. But Gov. Brian Kemp says she can't. Businesses are caught in the middle.

ATLANTA — Should Atlanta go to the guidelines of ‘Phase One’ now that there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases?

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said yes. She now ordering the city back to that phase, but governor Brian Kemp said her plans are not enforceable.

With that disagreement between the two leaders, Friday’s record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases has some businesses once again making a tough decision.

The decision now is whether to listen to the Atlanta mayor's new message or to continue operating under the guidelines of phase two.

Dialing back to Phase One means shutting down the city once again. All residents will be asked to stay home and only make essential trips to places like the grocery store.

Restaurants can remain open for to-go and curbside pickups only. This is a precaution that the black-owned restaurant Local Green Atlanta has already been taking…

“We were open 10 hours a day. Now we’re open six," owner Zak Wallace said. "We shut down all dining operations. We went strictly carry out and take out."

Wallace said he’ll keep operating under Phase One to do what’s best for this city and his customers as the number of COVID-19 cases rises.

“It’s a way of life. Keep hand sanitizer on you. Keep a mask on you. Stay six feet away," he said. "Put our responsibility as a business and humanity, put that before the dollar."

Governor Brian Kemp said Mayor Bottoms’ new guideline is just a suggestion and not a requirement. He said Bottoms should use her time to enforce his statewide executive order on reopening the state safely.

Despite the noticeable disagreements between Kemp and Bottoms, business owner Wallace believes social distancing and wearing a mask are essential to protecting yourself from the virus.

“I’ll side with the numbers. I’m a side with the leadership that’s actually listening to the experts and advising based on that,” he said.

Governor Kemp has not responded to 11Alive’s questions on whether to reverse the plans to reopen in response to the new cases.

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