MACON, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp eased COVID-19 restrictions for all restaurants, gyms, and bars in Georgia Thursday. Bar owners in downtown Macon are excited about the impact this executive order will have their businesses.
Darrin Ford opened A Brooke Haven Lounge in February of 2020, just one month before Georgia locked down.
Ford says the pandemic took a toll on his business.
"Sales were down, obviously, because at that time, people weren't getting out and about and patronizing the businesses more," Ford said.
Ford says although it was difficult, they still managed.
"We really had to think outside of the box to manage through all of the ambiguity with everything going on with the COVID restrictions," Ford said.
A Brooke Haven is not the only business that took a hit.
Jeremy Jackson opened Daiquiris & More in March of 2019.
"We're a new business, so, of course, it was very hard to shut down in only our second year," Jackson said.
Jackson also says the COVID-19 restrictions made things difficult.
"We had capacity restrictions and things of that nature, and it was just a real struggle to keep things going," Jackson said.
Both Ford and Jackson say they're thankful they can open their doors to more people and require less social distance under the new executive order.
"The biggest thing I'm looking forward to, honestly, is seeing the full potential of A Brooke Haven Lounge. I think we've only touched the tip of the iceberg," Ford said.
"We've been waiting on this day to come for a really long time, but we are still very cautious," Jackson said.
Ford agrees and says his business will now get the chance to thrive, but they will still prioritize being socially responsible.
Both Ford and Jackson say they will still take precautions to keep their customers safe, such as providing them with masks, checking temperatures, and offering hand sanitizer at the door.