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Recommendations for restaurants revealed before Phase One

Posted at 6:44 PM, Apr 30, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With Phase One now delayed until May 8, officials are releasing more information on what restaurants should be doing before opening their doors to the public.

Dr. Alex Jahangir of the Metro COVID-19 Task Force says the extra week of preparation was necessary, citing a rise in the average daily cases over the last two weeks.

Thursday afternoon's webinar was a combination of restaurant owners, attorneys and of course Metro Public Health officials.

“We’ve made 20-30 changes in the last month,” said Derrick Moore of Slim and Husky’s Pizza.

Moore is helping to set the example, after picking up several contact-less thermometers to test each employee before their shift. Attorney Martha Boyd of Baker Donelson agrees with the testing but says businesses should consider going even a step further.

Her proposal is to have all employees sign documents saying they understand the symptoms and if they feel sick, they agree to go home or not come in at all.

“If you have someone come in, feeling bad, experiencing symptoms and blows it off, that could result in your restaurant getting shutdown or this person infecting a bunch of other people unnecessarily,” said Boyd.

Boyd says every restaurant should have a protocol in place that addresses what to do if an employee comes down with COVID-19.

It’s not as simple as sending the employee home. She says you must consider who they’ve been in contact with and if there’s any future risk to customers.

As Boyd explains, employees should be reassured that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will help pay for any sick leave they may need if they contract the virus. Business owners will also be reimbursed for both sick leave and family medical leave.

Restaurants may also choose to take the temperatures of their customers; which Dr. Alex Jahangir says he’s leaving at the discretion of each business.

At every restaurant, owners are being told to have signs requiring all customers to wear face coverings if they can do so safely.

Tables are meant to be at least six feet apart from one another, with no more than six people per table and disposable menus are highly recommended.

Don’t be alarmed if you see what appears to be a bar open in phase one. Most bars in the Metro area also serve food, which means they can open if they keep the bar closed.

“The bar concept is what we’re trying to eliminate. The people standing and grabbing drinks from the bar,” said Hugh Atkins of Metro Public Health.

What that means for these locations is while they can still serve drinks, bar seating is strictly off limits. Same goes for live music and anything else that may add to the bar feel.