MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The state of Tennessee is moving towards reopening the economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic starting with restaurants.
Last week, Governor Bill Lee announced the state would allow restaurants in 89 counties to reopen on Monday at half capacity.
Restaurants will remain closed in major cities like Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. In those counties, officials will work with their health departments on a more gradual reopening plan.
Guidelines for restaurants that choose to reopen for dine-in services in the 89 counties go beyond only a capacity limit. Social distancing rules are still expected to be applied.
Restaurants are advised to space out tables by six feet and limit six people per table. Bar access and live music should not be allowed. Employees are also advised to wear cloth masks and gloves.
Although guidelines are put in place, the state does not have plans to enforce them and instead leaves it up to businesses to do the right thing.
Health leaders with UTHSC say as businesses begin to reopen, people need to act responsibly.
"The minute we start putting people back together again, in close proximity, you're going to get a spike. There's really no way around it so I would urge all people to continue to practice social distancing," Dr. Scott Strome, UTHSC Medical School Executive Dean, said.
On Wednesday, retail stores in Tennessee will also be able to reopen in the 89 counties at half capacity.
The stay-at-home order for Shelby County currently last until April 30th and the city of Memphis lasts until May 5th.