Governor announces first-phase reopening guidelines
By Jill Penley
Gov Bill Lee made it clear the phased reopening is not a return to pre-pandemic normal when the “Tennessee Pledge,” was released last week, which included guidelines for the first phase of reopening certain businesses including restaurants and retail.The governor has asked all business owners to take the pledge, meaning the adherence to all social distancing and health guidelines set forth by the state and the Centers for Disease Control.
“As businesses open and follow guidelines, customers will be safe to enter those businesses and will feel safe, and we expect that businesses will take and commit to and post this pledge to take care of their customers,” said Gov Lee.
The Pledge document provides specific guidelines for the 89 counties in Tennessee with state health departments. Each county in Tennessee has a county health department, with some larger counties having multiple facilities.
A total of 89 primarily rural county health departments operate under the direct supervision of the Tennessee Department of Health, headquartered in Nashville. In contrast, the six larger, urban counties – Madison, Shelby, Knox, Davidson, Hamilton, and Sullivan – have health departments that operate under local governance but work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health.
The Tennessee Pledge allowed restaurants to open April 27, albeit at half capacity. Likewise, retail stores opened at half the capacity on Wednesday. The guidelines direct all reopening businesses to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces at least every two hours and screen employees daily.
Executive Order 30, which does allow Tennesseans and businesses to return to work in all industries where that can be safely accomplished by following health guidelines, urges employers to allow or require remote work/telework if possible.
Initially, Executive Order 30 did not include hair and nail salons, barbershops, tanning salons, massage therapy establishments, and other “close contact” businesses; however, soon after its release, Lee amended the order by including them and issuing detailed guidelines for these types of businesses.
“As we continue a measured reopening of the economy, it’s critical we provide evidence-based guidance to businesses so they can keep their employees and customers safe,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “The very nature of close contact businesses calls for strong solutions, and we’re inspired by the willingness of these small business owners to take the Tennessee Pledge. These guidelines will allow thousands of businesses to reopen, put their employees back to work, and serve customers in a thoughtful and safe manner.”
Limit the number of customers to 50% of fire code capacity, and practice strict social distancing between customers.
Services will be offered by appointment only; no walk-ins
Make appropriate physical modifications to accommodate social distancing. Workstations should be at least 6 feet apart, with additional measures taken as necessary to ensure that all people stay 6 feet apart at all times except for the staff providing a service to their client; physical barriers to be used where necessary.
Prohibit use of waiting areas (e.g., could adopt such practices as notifying customers by call or text message) or serenity lounges; limit use of other common areas by multiple people at one time (e.g., elevators, breakrooms, etc.)
Ensure thorough workstation and equipment disinfection after each customer (i.e. sanitize all equipment, instruments, capes, smocks, linens, chairs and work area); alternatively, utilize single-use or disposable items
Implement enhanced sanitization of commonly touched surfaces and equipment (i.e., at least every two hours and when visibly soiled), using CDC recommended sanitizers and disinfecting protocols
Discard any single-use tools (e.g., files, buffers, neck strips) immediately after use
Daily deep cleaning and sanitization to be completed for high-touch areas (tanning beds, massage tables, salon chairs, etc.)
Use appropriate temperatures for washers and dryers to ensure thorough sanitization of towels, linens, etc.
Do not allow non-customer companions to accompany customer during a service
Do not allow group or communal settings for close contact personal services (e.g., couples’ massages, salt rooms, saunas, pools)
Services that require removing face coverings (e.g., beard shaving/trimming, facials, etc.) are not permitted in Phase 1
Do not offer any self-serve food or beverages. Temporarily close water fountains. Encourage users to provide their own water
Prohibit congregating in break rooms, check-in counters
Customers should wear a cloth face covering at all times while in the premises (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and as recommended by the CDC and executive order of the governor. Use other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC
For massage, prone positions could be uncomfortable or dangerous for clients who are wearing face coverings. Accordingly, massage professionals may consider other appropriate precautions such as draping a client’s head and face cradle cover with a thin cotton pillowcase. Otherwise, a face covering should be worn during portions of treatment in which the client is not prone or facedown
Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the premises
Screen and temperature-check all employees reporting to work for COVID-19 symptoms
Employees should increase hygiene practices—wash hands more frequently, avoid touching face, practice good respiratory etiquette when coughing or sneezing. Change any protective garments on a regular basis and sanitize reusable garments such as aprons or smocks at least once per day.
Employees should wear a cloth face covering (not N-95 or medical masks, which should be reserved for healthcare workers) and other personal protection items as recommended by the CDC; if masks become wet or visibly dirty, the mask should be replaced
All employees should wash hands between serving each customer, and more frequently as necessary. If appropriate for the service provided, gloves are recommended and should be discarded after each customer. The use of gloves should not be considered a replacement for frequent handwashing
Perform regular disinfection of high-touch surface areas (e.g., door handles, counter space, light switches, tools and instruments) at least every two hours and when visibly dirty
Visit https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/pub/execorders/exec-orders-lee30.pdf to read the Governor’s Executive Order 30 and https://www.tn.gov/governor/covid-19/economic-recovery/close-contact-business-guidelines.html to read the full Tennessee Pledge guidelines.