Restaurant, retail restrictions to be lifted; live music, more can also resume

(Tennessee Economic Recovery Group/Governor’s Office release) Restaurants and retail stores in most of Tennessee’s counties can increase their capacity starting Friday if they follow certain guidelines, and large attractions such as amusement and water parks, auditoriums and theaters, and zoos and large museums can re-open under certain conditions on Friday.

Restaurants and retailers have been limited to 50 percent capacity since re-opening the week of April 27. There is no certain capacity limit for restaurants, as a percentage, under the updated guidelines released by the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group on Wednesday. Instead, the focus is on making sure tables are properly spaced.

Under the new guidelines, restaurants and retail stores can increase their capacity starting Friday as long as they continue to follow social distancing protocols. For restaurants, those protocols include continuing to space tables six feet apart—or installing physical barriers where adequate separation isn’t possible. Bars are to remain closed unless they are used for seated, in-restaurant dining where there is six feet of separation between customer groups. Live music is permitted with certain precautions, including maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between performers and an audience in order to reduce potential exposures.

The large, non-contact attractions and venues that can re-open Friday include concert and performance venues, amusement and water parks, auditoriums, theaters and dinner theaters, zoos, large museums, and more. They are expected to follow new guidelines that are part of the Tennessee Pledge.

Strong measures to protect employees and customers are recommended, including screening of employees and customers, creating plans for managing guest flow, and limiting capacity to ensure separation between small groups.

The governor’s office says the state continues to meet White House criteria, and that there has been a downward trend in COVID-19 case growth, an increase in testing ability, and sufficient hospital capacity.

“Tennesseans have worked hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and their efforts have allowed us to continue to re-open our economy further,” Lee said. “These guidelines share best practices to ensure our state’s businesses can continue to operate in a way that protects customers and employees while putting people back to work.”

The full guidelines can be found on

These guidelines apply in 89 of 95 counties, including Anderson, Campbell, Morgan and Roane counties. The six other counties—Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby, and Sullivan—will continue to follow their own county-specific re-opening plans created in consultation with state and local health departments.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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