Atlanta Snapshot: Change is Coming

While the city has not exactly been bustling…

with the high energy it normally would be this time of year, it is certain that change is coming to Atlanta. You may not see those changes immediately due to current events, but by the time the city is up and running again, it will seem like you are walking into a brand new Atlanta.

As the first order of business, you may have noticed that our governor, Brian Kemp, and Atlanta’s
mayor, Keisha Bottoms, have utterly disagreed over the issue of reopening. She announced on
July 10 th that she, her husband and one of her four children tested COVID-19 positive. She was adamant
on rolling the city back into Phase 1 that same day, making mask use mandatory. All at the same,
Governor Kemp insists a mask mandate is impossible to enforce and claims the city should not be drawn
back into Phase 1. Except for essential trips, individuals are to stay at home when possible, wear a face
mask when in public, and follow social distancing protocol when under Phase 1.

Restaurants and retail establishments are to return to To-Go and curbside pickups, and nonessential businesses and facilities will remain closed. Per Kemp, “Mayor Bottoms’ action today is merely guidance both non-binding and legally unenforceable. As stated, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and the rule applies statewide. If the Mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do.” Asked what state restrictions were not enforced, the office of the governor claimed that he was unavailable to comment. The mayor says, “As it relates to the mask mandate I do find it peculiar that when the city of Savannah instituted its mask mandate, that the
Governor’s office was silent on that, yet when Atlanta has instituted, suddenly the governor’s office has
a public opinion about it.”

Then Brian sued Keisha…the saga continues. 

As of July 6th, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority has announced the indefinite closure of the
Centennial Olympic Park. Their executive director, Frank Poe, says “The financial ramifications stemming
from this global pandemic have hit the hospitality industry, including Georgia World Congress Center
Authority, especially hard. The park relies on operating support from GWCC and without event activities
on our campus the costs associated with maintaining public access to the park is not feasible.” The
Authority will work “in anticipation of daily use sometime in the future” to preserve the green space and
landscape at the park. Also this year due to the pandemic, the annual Fourth of July fireworks
celebration at the park was cancelled and the GWCC is being reactivated as a COVID-19 overflow facility due to the record-breaking spike in cases.

Dragon Con 2020 will not be held in person.

adding to the list of recent cancellations. They have instead opted for a virtual version of the event. This virtual version will be free, and will feature new content as well as virtual cosplay events, “best of” panels, and events from previous years. Anyone who has purchased a membership for 2020, it will be rolled over automatically to 2021. Anyone who wishes to have a refund can request it through a Google form attached on their website.

Several businesses are now closing, along with cancellations due to the ongoing pandemic. The Decatur-
based Highland Bakery recently permanently closed its doors. Since mid-March, the restaurant has been
closed because of the pandemic, however, several other Highland Bakery locations remain open, such as locations in the Old Fourth Ward, Cumberland, and Midtown. Highland Bakery joins various other recently permanently closed Decatur restaurants, including Doggy Dogg, Ted’s Montana Grill, and The Pinewood. Further closures throughout the city include Genki Noodles and Sushi, Amelie’s French Bakery, Dantanna’s, and Mother Bar + Kitchen. In addition, The Varsity closed on Thursday after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. The restaurant’s doors will reopen but the drive-in service will be forced to stay closed. Management says the decision to close the drive-in service comes as a result of multiple problems posed to the restaurant by COVID-19. Evaluating the current situation and gauging the difficulties of social distancing, masks, plexiglass protection and other issues, keeping the drive-in service open was seen as almost impossible. One of the biggest problems The Varsity faces, along with other businesses in Downtown Atlanta, is the lack of visitors. Without sporting events, concerts, conventions, or other attractions, it’s tough to get people in the door, even for a city icon like The Varsity.

Opened in 1973, Woodruff Park features 6 acres of land between Peachtree Street NE and Park Place
NE, including two fountains, a performance pavilion, and several monuments. Located in Atlanta’s
geographic center, the space attracts thousands of Atlanta residents—and with that, hundreds of
homeless individuals. The solution to this, though, is simple.

Woodruff Park has its own case manager.

Woodruff Park is one of few parks nationwide that has its own case manage or social worker. Janika
Robinson, who works at least three days a week in person due to the current state of global affairs, is
dedicated full-time to providing housing, social assistance, and service referrals to anyone who
approaches her or that she comes across. In September 2018, she became Woodruff’s first case
manager, and since her employment, she has helped to place 135 people in permanent housing and
connected over 1,000 others to social services. 

We need good Samaritans in these uncertain times, to help lift our spirits. There’s been consistently
more bad news now than ever, and little success stories are helping to brighten our hope for the world.
If there is anything small or large that you can do to help or support a person, group or business in your
vicinity, please do so. The little things count and they help a ton!