State releases new guidance for reopening restaurants, retail, and large attractions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Economic Recovery Group have released new guidelines for reopening restaurants and retail, as well as guidelines to enable attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22.

According to officials, Tennessee continues to meet White House criteria with a downward trend in case growth, an increase in testing capability, and sufficient hospital capacity. The new guidelines apply to 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties; excluding Davidson, Shelby, Madison, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan counties who can continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans.

“Tennesseans have worked hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and their efforts have allowed us to continue to reopen our economy further,” said Governor Bill Lee. “These guidelines share best practices to ensure our state’s businesses can continue to operate in a way that protects customers and employees while putting people back to work.”

The updated guidelines enable restaurants and retail to increase capacity as long as social distancing protocols remain in place. Restaurants should continue to space tables 6 feet apart, or install physical barriers where adequate separation isn’t possible. Bars remain closed unless used for seated, in-restaurant dining where there are 6 feet of separation between customer groups. Live music is permissible with appropriate precautions, which include maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between performers and the audience in order to reduce potential exposure.

Large, non-contact attractions and venues including concert and performance venues, amusement and water parks, auditoriums, theaters and dinner theaters, zoos, large museums and more can also reopen safely under new Tennessee Pledge guidelines. Strong measures to protect employees and customers are recommended, including screening of employees and customers, creating plans for managing guest flow, and limiting capacity to ensure separation between small groups.

“All these new large venues will still be required to practice social distancing like we have talked about today and have certain protocols in place in order to protect those patrons who come to their communities,” said Rep. Ryan Williams, “The good news too is even though there will be some six-foot spacing between tables at restaurants they will be able to continue to relax those measures, but that doesn’t mean we should relax.”

Full guidelines can be found on the Tennessee Pledge website here.

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