‘Tennessee Pledge’: Gov. Bill Lee outlines new guidelines for businesses opening next week

Gov. Bill Lee discusses guidelines for businesses reopening

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has announced new guidelines for businesses allowed to reopen next week in 89 of the state’s 95 counties.

Shelby County and several other metro areas, like Nashville, are not part of this plan.

Beginning Monday, restaurants can open at 50-percent capacity and following the guidelines set in place. On Wednesday, retail stores can reopen at 50-percent capacity.

The governor shared details of his reopening plan at a news conference Friday.

Lee said he tasked the Unified Command Group and Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group with input from health experts, state local partners, business and industry leaders to build what they’re calling the “Tennessee Pledge.”

The Tennessee Pledge includes specific recommendations that enable most businesses to reopen responsibly without the burden of having mandates.

“This will be a gradual return to business as usual with room to adjust as we evaluate changing data,” said Lee.

The Tennessee Pledge asks businesses to provide safe working conditions that protect their employees’ health and also protect consumers while securing their livelihoods.

The plan also asks employees to commit to protecting themselves, their coworkers and the customers they serve.

Lee is encouraging Tennessee residents to act responsibly by following guidelines for social distancing and wearing protective equipment wherever it’s appropriate.

Restaurants must adhere to the following guidelines in order to protect employees and customers:

  • Protecting Employees
    • Wear face coverings and gloves
    • Report any symptoms of illness to supervisor
    • Follow daily sanitation protocols
  • Protecting Customers
    • Limit occupancy to 50-percent of seating capacity
    • Space tables six feet apart
    • Limit seating to six per table
    • Use social distancing standards in waiting areas
    • Keep bar areas closed
    • No live music
    • Screen customers with basic questions about COVID-19 symptoms
  • Business Operations
    • Sanitize all front-of-house contact surfaces every two hours
    • Use disposable menus or sanitize menus between each use
    • Use rolled silverware/napkins stored in sealed bins
    • Sanitize chairs and all tabletop items after each table turn
    • Do not offer self-serve buffets, shared condiments, or beverage station re-use
    • Provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers

Retailers must adhere to the following guidelines in order to protect employees and customers:

  • Protecting Employees
    • Wear dedicated cloth face coverings, gloves, and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC
    • Report any symptoms of illness to supervisor
    • Provide training on personal protective equipment based on CDC guidelines
    • Sanitize hands with soap and/or hand sanitizer
    • Stagger shifts, breaks, and meals to maintain social distancing
  • Protecting Customers
    • Limit customer occupancy to 50-percent of store capacity
    • Customers should wear face coverings inside stores
    • Consider shopping hours 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
    • Prompt customers regarding the importance of social distancing
  • Business Operations
    • Establish enhanced cleaning protocols that follow CDC guidelines
    • Designate separate entrances and exits
    • Use plastic shields or barriers at checkout between the customer and clerk
    • Adjust store hours to allow time for enhanced cleaning
    • Prohibit the use of reusable bags
    • Suspend “self-service” food stations and dining areas
    • Suspend the sampling of food and personal hygiene products
    • Management-level employees should monitor compliance
    • Add social distancing “reminder” signage and announcements

He said all decisions have been built on public health data that informs how the virus is moving through the state and affecting citizens.

The governor said reopening guidance will be given to gyms, churches, hospitals and physician practices next week.

Close contact services like barbershops, salons, tattoo shops and massage parlors could reopen later in May.

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