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Tennessee Pledge to Reopen Restaurants

April 29, 2020

The Governor’s Economic Recovery Group issued Tennessee Pledge, "a plan to help Tennesseans return to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods and reboot our state’s economy."

Restaurants are expected to follow the guidelines in the pledge. The pledge is mandatory for limited service restaurants, as specified in Executive Order 30.

Here is a copy of the Tennessee Pledge Guidelines for Restaurants

This is our summary of the guidelines for re-opening:

1. Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Ask all employees:

  • 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?
  • Have you had new loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

2. Temperature screen all employees on a daily basis. 

  • Best practice: temperatures on site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival.
  • At a minimum, employees take their own temperatures before arriving.
  • Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Any employee that answers yes to any of the screening questions or is running a fever, must leave the premises and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing.

4. Employees are to stay home when feeling ill, when exposed to COVID-19, or if diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or underlying conditions are encouraged to stay home

5. Implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, according to CDC guidelines, with regular sanitization of high-touch surfaces at least every two hours.

6. Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling. Further is safer, per the guidelines.

7. Employees must wear masks or cloth face covering (but not N-95 or medical masks).

8. Restaurant employees must wear gloves.

9. Provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers as soon as possible

10. Plan for potential COVID-19 cases, and work with local health department officials when needed (e.g., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep clean facilities).

11. Make employees aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19.

12. Update employee policies for COVID-19.  Staff should sign the policy, and the policy should be posted.

13. Limit self-service options (customer samples, communal packaging, food/beverages, etc.)

14. Post extensive signage on health policies to educate staff and guests about COVID-19 best practices, including the attached.

Specific guidelines for restaurants.

• 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.

            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?

• Place hand sanitizer stations in restaurant lobby and bathrooms, as well as 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

Although the pledge mandates that bar areas remain closed, many restaurants have set up their bars for carry out and delivery. As long as social distancing and other precautions are employed, we do not see this as violating the pledge.

Stay tuned for more guidelines.

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