Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a Tuesday morning press conference that the City of Atlanta was making great progress toward its full reopening plan, but the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the refusal of many to get vaccinated have forced a setback.

Last year, the city set a five phase reopening plan for city offices, resumption of public events, and the end of a mask mandate. The city recently started accepting applications for large public events again and the calendar is full of arts, food and music festivals.

Bottoms reinstated the mask mandate on July 28, but said she wasn’t planning to return to last year’s “lockdown” mode, which saw events cancelled and businesses and restaurant dining rooms closed. However, she said any decision she makes would be based on “data and science.”

“We were making great progress,” Bottoms said. “We were at stage four of the reopening plan and now we’re on the verge of going back to stage two.”

Phase two calls for city offices remaining closed, only allows for small gatherings of 10 or less, and puts restaurants and businesses back to delivery and curbside pickup. However, with Gov. Brian Kemp letting the pandemic state of emergency pass and not supporting masks or return to lockdown, how far Bottoms could go without a challenge is unknown.

“Please, please, please get vaccinated,” Bottoms urged residents, noting that at 49 percent, vaccinations rates are higher in the city than in the rest of the state, which remains one of the nation’s lowest for getting inoculated.

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is Editor of Atlanta Intown. He can be reached at collin@atlantaintownpaper.com.