Mary’s bar in East Atlanta Village is the latest business to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter.

New data from Johns Hopkins University shows that COVID-19 cases are up 214 percent in Georgia.

The data, reported by CNN, shows a sharp increase occurring from July 16 to July 29 as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge in Georgia and across the country. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported nearly 3,000 new cases of COVID on July 29 along with 115 hospitalizations.

The case surge comes as school districts around the metro are preparing to resume classes next week. Atlanta Public Schools is requiring masks for students and staff, while Fulton County Schools will require masks on buses and is strongly encouraging them for non-vaccinated students and staff in schools. City Schools of Decatur are also requiring masks for all students and staff while DeKalb County Schools are requiring masks for middle school and high schools students and staff.

Drew Charter School has already seen the effects of the COVID-19 surge. According to Decaturish, more than 100 students are in quarantine after coming into contact with two staff members and a student who tested positive – just two days into the new school year.

The rise in cases prompted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to issue an executive order requiring a mask or face covering in all public places, including private businesses. Bottoms’ order immediately set off a war of words with Gov. Brian Kemp, who refused calls for a mask mandate and said Bottoms should focus on the city’s crime wave.

Bottoms took to Twitter to rebuke the governor: “What’s ridiculous is that his strategy w/ crime seems to be the same as his strategy w/ COVID, to pick a fight w/ me. Vaccinations are down and crime and COVID are up across GA. He should stop trying to win an election by trashing Atlanta, the capital city of the state he leads.”

Even before Bottoms’ order, local businesses were requiring masks, and even more controversially, requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. Argosy  made national headlines – and drew the ire of conservative politicians like U.S. House Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – when it posted a sign requiring proof of vaccination to dine in the East Atlanta Village restaurant.

On Friday, another East Atlanta establishment, the LGBTQ+ bar Mary’s, said it would also require proof of vaccination from patrons. On social media, restaurants and businesses including The Earl, Star Provisions, and Sam Flax posted notices asking customers to mask up. Out Front Theatre Company also posted that it would require patrons to wear masks for its July 30-31 production of “A Southern Fairytale.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.