The Advisory Council for the Reopening of the City of Atlanta has submitted its final recommendations for a gradual reopening to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Informed by economic indicators and medical science, the report contains evidence-based short, mid, and long-range recommendations for the safe and data-driven reopening of the City.

The mayor will review the Advisory Council’s recommendations and the current state of COVID-19 cases in the city and will provide additional guidance in the coming weeks to ensure a safe and data-driven reopening of the City.

“Thank you to the members of the Advisory Council for your diligence in providing a thoughtful, detailed roadmap that will help inform our plans on the reopening of the City of Atlanta,” Bottoms said. “I am also grateful to the thousands of individuals who participated in our Resident Survey—it is my strong belief that our residents must be a part of this process. Together, we are on a path to ensuring that our plans for reopening the City continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of all Atlantans.”

The report reflects the insights and guidance of the Advisory Council, which was established by Mayor Bottoms through an administrative order on April 20 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The 60-person council was comprised of a diverse group of leaders and experts from across Atlanta’s business, nonprofit, healthcare, and government sectors.

“After extensive research and review of global best practices, we believe the findings and recommendations in this report will help provide the City with safe and practical guidelines to help Atlanta residents and businesses through the COVID-19 crisis,” said Advisory Council Co-chair Ingrid Saunders Jones.

In addition to the insights from members of the Advisory Council and other leading health experts, the report also drew from the findings of a Resident Survey asking Atlantans how they were approaching and interacting with various businesses and venues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the findings from the survey, conducted from April 28-May 4, include: (1) an overwhelming majority of survey respondents indicated that, at the time of the survey, they felt unwilling to go to most businesses and venue types; (2) approximately 97 percent of respondents indicated they will not feel safe going out to various venues after reopening without taking their own protective measures, such as wearing a face mask, hand washing, avoiding crowds, and wearing their own personal protective equipment (“PPE”); (3) respondents overwhelmingly indicated that, if required to wear a mask by a workplace or business establishment, they would be willing to do so.

The Advisory Council also recognized that there are federal guidelines, as well as statewide executive orders, that have been issued pertaining to reopening. The Advisory Council’s voluntary recommendations are put forth as benchmarks for proceeding in a safe and deliberative manner within the context of the State’s reopening orders.

“The Advisory Council’s recommendations are based on the current available science on the virus, which we know is rapidly evolving,” said Advisory Council Co-chair Robert Ashe, III. “The Council stressed that as the City establishes metrics and guidelines for reopening, the guidance should be reevaluated and amended as the science and facts are updated and made available to the public.”

The report outlined three core focus areas for Atlanta’s reopening strategy, recommending:

  • The City establish and track clear metrics to signal to residents and businesses when they can more safely reopen, what safety measures they should take, and how their operations or routines may need to be adjusted. Metrics will also enable the City, in partnership with the State Department of Public Health and other agencies, to quickly identify resurgences of COVID-19, and provide an early warning system to the public in the event safety measures and restrictions need to be re-imposed.
  • The City supplement the State’s reopening criteria with additional, voluntary guidelines. The Council outlined five (5) sequential phases for reopening, providing specific metrics that should be achieved to advance to each next phase, and voluntary guidance for individuals, businesses/non-profits, and the City for each phase.
  • The City continue to work with public and private partners to address cross-cutting and sector-specific considerations for reopening, many of which cannot be addressed by a single actor or sector alone.
(Photo: Joshua Spruiel/City of Atlanta)

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