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Gov. Lee Issues Guidelines for Restaurants, Retail Stores to Reopen Early Next Week in 89 Counties



Governor Bill Lee announced partial capacity reopening of restaurants on Monday, April 27th, and partial capacity reopening of retail on Wednesday, April 29th.  Other close contact business to open at a later date.
photo submitted / The Lexington Progress


by W. Clay Crook-

Governor Bill Lee conducted a special media presentation concerning the partial reopening of restaurants and retail at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020.
Guidelines were issued for restaurants in the 89 rural counties to open at 50 percent capacity on Monday, April 27th, and retailers at 50 percent capacity on Wednesday, April 29th.

During the question and answer time, the Governor said that some close contact businesses, such as barber shops and beauty salons will not be able to open until a later date.
A county by county plan was not utilized as the 89 most rural counties are similar enough to follow the same guidelines and avoid confusing multiple plans. The six metropolitan areas, however, will have their own customized plans.

During this careful phase approach, out of state travel is still being discouraged.

Today, Friday, April 24, 2020 Gov. Bill Lee issued the first steps from the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first industries to receive guidance through the plan include the restaurant and retail industries.

Lee said today’s announcement is the first step in a phased reopening of the state’s economy, which entails rebooting industries as they are safe to pursue in 89 of the state’s 95 counties. The state is working with Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan on plans to reopen businesses in those counties. Lee added that many Tennesseans are facing not just potential sickness but crippling financial hardship, particularly in the service industries.


Lee announced Tennessee restaurants are able to reopen Monday, April 27th at 50 percent occupancy. Additionally, Tennessee retailers are able to reopen on Wednesday, April 29th at 50 percent occupancy.  The state recommends that employees in both industries wear cloth face coverings and that business owners follow federal guidelines for hygiene and workplace sanitation standards related to the pandemic. “Like the rest of the country, Tennessee has taken an unprecedented economic hit with families and small businesses feeling the most pain,” Lee said. “We must stay vigilant as a state, continue to practice social distancing, and engage in best practices at our businesses so that we can stay open.”


Restaurant Industry Safeguarding Guidance
In addition to strict adherence to CDC guidelines, the State recommends restaurants put into place an assortment of measures to protect consumers and employees, including:

Employee Protection
•Always follow sanitation frequency guidance contained in this document
•Have dedicated face coverings and dedicated gloves (i.e., only used by one person) worn by all employees, at all times
-Should not be N-95 or medical variety – these should be saved for use by healthcare workers
•Require all employees to report any symptoms of illness to supervisor and require notification of COVID-19 positive case in employee’s household
•Provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers as soon as possible

Consumer Protection
•Limit the number of customers in the restaurant to 50% of seating capacity
•Tables should be spaced at least 6 feet apart
•Limit tables to no more than 6 guests per table
•Mark any indoor or outdoor waiting area so that social distancing standards are met (options can include a text system to alert guests of available seating, an intercom system, or only one member of a party being allowed to wait in the waiting area)
•Bar areas should remain closed
•Live music should not be permitted
•Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the restaurant:
-Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer. Customers with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on premise
-Minimum: Question customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms
§Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
§Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
§Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

Business Process Adaptations
•Place hand sanitizer stations in restaurant lobby and bathrooms, as well as at cashier stations
•Sanitize all front-of-house contact surfaces including door handles, screens, phones, pens, keyboards and other areas of hand contact every two hours, at a minimum
•Use menus that are disposable or sanitized between each use
•Use rolled silverware / napkins stored in sealed bins (gloves should be used by staff while rolling silverware in designated sanitary areas)
•Sanitize all tabletop items, including condiments, after each table turns (or use disposables)
•Sanitize chairs, especially where contact occurs, after each table turns
•Do not offer self-serve buffets, condiments on a counter for use by multiple tables, or beverage station re-use


Retail Industry Safeguarding Guidance
In addition to strict adherence to CDC guidelines, the State recommends retail industries put into place an assortment of measures to protect consumers and employees, including:

Employee Protection
•Staff should wear face coverings (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC
•Provide training on personal protective equipment based on CDC guidelines
•Provide a sanitizing station such as a wash basin with soap and/or bottle of hand sanitizer
• Stagger shifts, breaks, and meals, in compliance with wage and hour laws and regulations, to maintain social distancing
•Provide regular updates and training for employees about personal COVID-19 mitigation and store safeguards based on CDC guidelines
•Require all employees to report any illness to supervisor and require notification of COVID-19 positive case in employee’s household
•Prohibit congregating in break rooms or common areas and limit capacity of such areas to allow for safe social distancing minimum of 6 feet whenever possible

Consumer Protection
•Limit the number of customers inside a store at a given time, excluding employees and representatives of third-party delivery companies, to 50 percent or less of store occupancy based on Tennessee’s Building and Fire Code
•Customers should wear face coverings inside the store
•Consider dedicated shopping hours or appointment times for the elderly, medically vulnerable, and health care workers
•Establish one-way aisles and traffic patterns for social distancing
•Increase curbside, pickup, and delivery service options to minimize contact and maintain social distancing
•Assign dedicated staff to prompt customers regarding the importance of social distancing
•Add social distancing “reminder” signs, personal stickers, floor decals, and audio announcements

Business Process Adaptations
•Establish enhanced cleaning protocols that follow CDC guidelines including sanitizing shared resources (such as carts) after each use, and sanitizing all high traffic / high touch areas (such as counters check-out lanes, keypads, break rooms, dressing rooms, rest rooms) every two hours and when visibly dirty
•Use a clearly designated entrance and a separate clearly designated exit to maintain social distancing
•Use plastic shields or barriers between customers and clerks at service counters, and clean them frequently (every 2 hours and when visibly dirty)
•Adjust store hours to allow time for enhanced cleaning
•Prohibit the use of reusable bags (reusable bags may carry COVID-19)
•Suspend the sampling of food and personal hygiene products
•Task management-level employees within a store to monitor compliance

Ongoing story, please continue to check this site for further updates.

For the complete article, see the April 29th edition of The Lexington Progress.

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