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As COVID-19 restrictions ease in Georgia, local businesses bouncing back

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It has been three weeks since the majority of COVID restrictions were lifted in Georgia and local businesses say it is really starting to feel like the old days again.

While capacity and social distancing guidelines are a thing of the past, Georgia’s public health state of emergency is still in effect and was just renewed. So, what does that mean for businesses?

That public health emergency essentially allows the Governor and the Department of Health to keep certain programs and health efforts going to fight the pandemic. But with the majority of statewide guidelines now relaxed, Stillwater Taproom in downtown Augusta says life here is back to normal.

The glasses are no longer empty, and neither are Matt Flynn’s pockets.

“I’m glad we are actually putting money in the checking account instead of just treading water,” said Matt Flynn, owner of Stillwater Taproom.

We spoke with Matt Flynn back in June of 2020 when bars were set to reopen.

“From March to June when the reopening happened, that was pretty painful,” said Flynn.

But thanks to happy hour and relaxing restrictions his bar is in a better place.

“We are pretty content with the way things are headed. We’ve even expanded our seating areas up top for people to spread out a little bit more,” said Flynn.

Life is coming back downtown, and vaccinations are bringing a much-needed sense of normalcy. But is it too soon for no rules?

“We are getting very close to where we need to be,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur with AU. He has been studying trends and numbers throughout the pandemic and says the situation continues to get better.

“For instance, the Braves are going to increase to full capacity on May 7 at the stadium. I’m okay with that,” said Dr. MacArthur.

But that does not mean to throw all caution to the wind. He says even after the health emergency ends things will not exactly be the same, and we still need to be cautious. Either way, Matt Flynn doesn’t see his business changing too much.

“I don’t know how much it would really affect us. Again, it’s up to the customer and their comfort level,” said Flynn.

Stillwater Taproom says many of its staff and customers have been vaccinated. As their friends get vaccinated too, they see the bar as a safe haven.

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