New Restaurant Guidelines Issued as Capacity Restrictions Are Lifted

Mac's Burgers and Beer
Photo: Mac's Burgers and Beer in Spring Hill, photo from Facebook

As of today, May 22, capacity restrictions have been lifted on restaurants. Therefore, the state’s Economic Recovery Group has issued new Tennessee Pledge guidelines for restaurants.

Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments.

Here’s a look at some of the new guidelines for restaurants. To see a complete list of guidelines, click here.

Employee Protection

  • Allow employees to work from home as much as possible
  • Screen all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms with the following questions:
    Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
    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?
  • Temperature screening employees:
    Best practice: employers to take temperatures onsite with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival at work
    Minimum: temperatures can be taken before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Have dedicated face coverings (i.e., only used by one person) worn by all employees, at all times, unless unsafe for certain back-of-house work functions
    Masks should not be N-95 or medical variety, which should be reserved for use by healthcare workers

Consumer Protection

  • Limit tables to no more than 10 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 unless the area is utilized to accommodate seated tables for in-restaurant dining
  • Live music should not be permitted unless appropriate precautions are taken. Research and the CDC suggest that activities like singing may project respiratory droplets in greater quantity and over a greater distance, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with prolonged exposure. Maintain at least 15 feet of separation—and more if possible—between audience members and performers such as vocalists and singers. Adopt seating and spacing modifications to increase physical distance from a performer. Where necessary, install barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles from performers, or implement alternative placement of performers. In addition, maximize physical spacing between performers on-stage
  • Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the restaurant:
    Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer in addition to screening questions. 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 within the past 14 days?
    Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

Seating Arrangement Specifications

  • Tables: Tables should be spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • Booths: Create at least 6 feet of separation between each booth. If booths are back-to-back and 6 feet of separation is not possible, install solid physical barriers (i.e. plexiglass, acrylic, wood, etc.) that rise from the back of the booth to at least 6 feet from the floor of the restaurant , so that there is a barrier reaching at least the level of the head between booths. Sanitize such barriers after each table turn
  • Counter seating: If counter seating is used, maintain at least 6 feet between individual parties by spacing out moveable stools or chairs or reserving stationary stools and chairs. Evaluate modifications to maintain as much distance as reasonably possible between employees and customers utilizing counter seating
  • Best Practice: Install plexiglass, acrylic or similar physical barrier to separate and reduce exposure between employees and customers
  • Waiting areas: Chairs or other seating in waiting areas should be spaced at least 6 feet apart. Standing-only space within waiting areas should remain clear; use outdoor waiting area or page customers in order to minimize congregation

Learn more here.