Tennessee issues guidelines for limited economic re-opening


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Friday a set of guidelines by which Tennessee businesses may begin the process of re-opening. “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.”

The Tennessee Pledge guidelines for all businesses, with special guidelines for retail and restaurants, are available online here.

Among the guidelines for all businesses:
• Allow employees to work from home as much as possible

• Screen all employees reporting to work at place of business for COVID-19 symptoms with the following questions:  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?

• Temperature screening employees:  Minimum: Temperatures can be taken before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Direct any employee who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., answers yes to any of the screening questions or who is running a fever) to leave the premises immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing, per CDC guidelines. Employers should maintain the confidentiality of employee health information.

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

• Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling

• 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)

• Covered employers and employees should be aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons, such as for self-quarantining or seeking a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms

• Update the Employee Illness Policy to include the symptoms of “COVID-19” or create a COVID-19 specific policy. All staff should sign the policy, and the policy should be posted for confirmation • Limit self-service options (customer samples, communal packaging, food/beverages, etc.) • Post extensive signage on health policies, including the CDC guidance to stop the spread of germs and CDC guidance on COVID-19 symptoms

Among the guidelines for restaurants:
• Have dedicated face coverings and dedicated gloves (i.e., only used by one person) worn by all employees, at all times, but these should not be N-95 or medical variety – those 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.

• Restaurants should provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers as soon as possible.

• 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:

• 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?
Among the guidelines for retail:
• 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.

• 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

• 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.

Lee said Friday’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.

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