ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) --COVID-19’s effect on Atlanta’s nightlife has been devastating, especially considering the industry's contribution to the state's economy.
It’s a confusing time for those who frequent nightclubs and club owners. There are even restrictions for bars and clubs to operate, but dancing from a distance is difficult.
And although virus cases are surging, there’s also contrast between what health officials say and what state leaders are saying.
Atlanta is known for its thriving entertainment and nightlife scene.
"You could see anybody at OAK Atlanta. You might see Diddy, you might see Cardi B, you might see Kevin Hart you might see The Migos," says Korey Felder, the owner of OAK Atlanta.
Oak is one of the hundreds of nightclubs that help to contribute the city’s billion-dollar entertainment industry, and some 2.7% of workers in Atlanta are employed in nighttime establishments.
“On any given weekend we could or anybody in this industry can do $50-$100,000 and everybody shares inside of that pot,” adds Felder.
When Coronavirus hit, this industry was basically non-existent. Though a sigh of relief was felt earlier this month when clubs were allowed to re-open.
“Whether that’s hand-sanitizing stations, whether that’s temperature checks at the door, plexiglass being installed, we’re going through every option possible.”
But videos taken from inside local clubs show it’s nearly impossible to keep people off the dance floor and to encourage social distancing. Several people say they contracted COVID-19 last week after attending Heretic, a popular Atlanta gay club.
Covid cases are reaching a new high everyday in several states including Georgia. The Peach State set a record last week with more than 11,000 cases. On Monday 2207 new cases were reported, and on Sunday 2,225.
In a sign of concern, Governor Brian Kemp extended Coronavirus restrictions by two weeks for businesses and restaurants. Kemp is also requiring masks amid the virus resurgence.
Critics say that’s not enough.
Some club owners like Korey are cautiously moving forward with plans to stay open.
“We came together as a counsel, Mayor Bottoms gave us the opportunity to submit our recommendations from each sector, myself being the representative of the nightlife sector,” says Felder.
Still, some bar and nightclub owners say it’s too soon to get the party started.
Some business owners believe that in order to save the industry, state and local leaders need to create reopening plans that consider if COVID-19 might be here to stay for a while.
As for Club Heretic it has suspended its future events "out of an abundance of caution."