A pledge meant to encourage Roswell business and residents to social distanced and wear a mask is garnering both criticism and support from local business owners.
Roswell mayor Lori Henry issued the Come Back Safely pledge as a way to encourage Roswell residents and businesses to social distance, wear a mask and take other safety precautions. At the time of publishing, 50 businesses and 70 community members have signed the pledge, including North Fulton Community Charities, Deep Roots Wine Market, Bulloch Hall and Roswell Inc.
“The Come Back Safely pledge is a promise that anyone who lives, works, and plays in Roswell can take to assure their neighbors and the broader community that they will take necessary precautions like washing or sanitizing hands, following physical-distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings/masks, and staying home when feeling ill,” Henry said. “By communicating a shared responsibility and commitment to safety and compliance, we can work together to help cultivate a greater sense of care and confidence in public environments.”
The pledge states:
“As we reopen our doors or begin offering expanded service, my staff and I are committed to acting in accordance with the recommendations of the public health authorities to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Following guidelines provided by the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health, I hereby declare that we will take the following steps:
♦ Wash hands frequently & have hand sanitizer available
♦ Wear face coverings when interacting with guests
♦ Follow physical-distancing & capacity guidelines
♦ Follow CDC standards of cleaning & sanitation
♦ Conduct wellness screenings of employees
♦ Train employees on COVID-19 safety procedures”
While the pledge was releases last week, many Roswell businesses have already committed to COVID-19 safety procedures.
“Restaurants have long been subject to more stringent health and safety standards than most businesses, and I’d pledged to go beyond those strict requirements months ago,” Table and Main, Osteria Mattone and Coalition Food and Beverage owner Ryan Pernice said. “That’s why today you’ll see my entire staff in masks, ample space between indoor tables (which have remained generously spaced apart per the Gov’s initial capacity restrictions by our own volition), and other physical investments we’ve made such as “no pull” handles on bathroom doors and touch-free sink faucets.”
Pernice said staff has also enhanced air filtration and increased weekly professional cleaning.
“I applaud the Mayor for taking this seriously and passing the pledge,” Pernice said. “I think that’s a great step.”
However, the pledge has drawn criticism from some who think it is not enough.
“The pledge is a political move that none of the offenders will take seriously, and likely even provides “license” to those offenders to continue operating as they have,” Shanghai Street Food and Bar owner Aaron Smith said. “Its like asking school bullies to be nice and they say “okay” only to bully some more.”
Smith said his restaurant is committed to social distancing, with seating capacity down 70%. Unfortunately, the drop in customers has also led to a drop in sales.
“Despite others negligence we’ve been a vocal advocate of CDC guidelines throughout the neighborhood,” Smith said. “We have people that come eat with us because we’re the only restaurant that makes them feel safe.”
“Out of principal I don’t want to sign the pledge, as we aren’t pledging anything now,” Smith continued. “We’ve always pledged it. Safety was a priority then and now, not by signing a document.”
Canton Street restaurant and bar Rock ‘N’ Taco came under fire in July for hosting a three-day music festival in its parking lot. According to Roswell city spokesperson Julie Brechbill, the city granted Rock ‘N’ Taco a special permit as long as the restaurant provided face masks and hand sanitizer. Rock ‘N’ Taco owner John Michael Brunetti said they spent $3,500 on disposable masks.
“Rock ‘N’ Taco has been following all of the guidelines put in place by the state and health experts,” Brunetti said. “In addition, they have added safety measures to protect their staff, musicians and guests. Rock ‘N’ Taco will continue to have live music which is permitted by the city at this time.”
Brunetti said they are looking into the Come Back Safely pledge.
The pledge can be accessed at www.roswellgov.com/government/special-projects/come-back-safely-pledge.