In many, many, states, we are seeing restaurants and other public establishments begin reopening. While this is an exciting time for many, it is certainly (and understandably) met with a lot of hesitation and caution from the establishment owners, to the employees, to the customers.
In recent weeks, we have seen the development of the Tennessee Pledge which lays out a lot of guidelines for a safe reopen, but it is important to mention that these guidelines are not just for business establishments, but also for guests who plan to revisit their favorite businesses.
In order for everyone to be able to feel safe and comfortable heading back to public places and local establishments, it is imperative that everyone be respectful of these places' choices and decisions. While remaining closed is difficult, reopening is arguably just as difficult - maybe even more difficult due to responsibility to keep staff and customers safe and happy.
So what does this mean for guests who want to head back to their favorite bars and restaurants? Here's a quick list of things we anticipate patrons needing to adhere to / be knowledgeable of before they head out for a night on the town:
- Decreased Restaurant Capacity - Establishments will begin opening at a 50% capacity in most places. This means, you may approach a restaurant with a lot of open tables. Please do NOT seat yourself or see these open tables as amble opportunity for your party to be seated. Seating needs to be strategic to adhere to the continued social distance guidelines for your safety.
- Decreased Party Sizes - In Tennessee, parties must remain 6 or less. In other areas, or at the establishments discretion, it may be smaller - perhaps 4 people or less. Once again, this is to ensure crowd control and that social distancing guidelines can easily be followed.
- No Bar Seating - Yes. We all love sitting at the bar, but for right now, it just isn't feasible. It's hard enough to keep 6 feet between guests (and your bartender) - and the bar is typically a place where people congregate to socialize. As much as we long for this, unfortunately, bar seating, and general congregating around a bar just cannot happen safely yet.
- No Moving Table to Table - Similar to the sentiment above with bar seating, once you're seated, please remain with your table. This helps ensure the establishment can operate as intended.
- Increased Sanitation and Hygiene Practices - Be prepared to be greeted at the door with hand sanitizer. Don't be surprised If there Is a hand sanitizer bottle at every table. Honestly, it may be the only thing on your table when you arrive. You will also, very likely, find clear demonstrations of the establishments cleaning practices posted for your viewing. The TN Pledge requires all high traffic areas and shared spaces to be sanitized a minimum of every two hours. You may find an establishment opt for more frequency.
- Increased Guest Screening - Along with hand sanitizer, you may also find you are greeted with a temperature check at the front door. While this practice may sound a bit invasive, it has proven to increase a sense of comfort and security amongst patrons and workers. If a temperature check is not required or preferred, you may be asked questions about your recent health history or if you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19. While a lot of this sounds a bit like a sci-fi movie, there is truly no other way to ensure the safety of people entering an establishment. And at the end of the day, I'm sure we would all feel safer and more comfortable going back out into our world if we knew everyone was taking this seriously and practicing caution.
- Required PPE - You will find all employees required to wear personal protective equipment including masks. It is dependent upon the establishment if they require their patrons to enter with masks as well. While we know that eating and drinking simply cannot be done with masks on, it may be required before or after meals.
- Right to Refuse Service - While we do completely understand that going to a restaurant now looks a lot different than before - we ask that everyone please recognize that establishments that are opening are doing the best they can to adhere to state and federal guidelines as well as listening to the concerns of their employees. If you do not wish to comply with an establishment's guidelines, you may be asked to leave. We can't imagine anyone wanting to refuse service - truly, it has never been enjoyable even before the pandemic! So please, respect how an establishment is handling their "new normal."
We sincerely hope this helps! If you are looking for more information on this, we presented a webinar on Friday that outlines a lot more restaurant policies and protocols, which can be found here.