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From big box to locally owned, businesses set plans limit stores to 50% capacity

Enforcing 50 percent capacity is different for every business, but most are ready to do their part.

Restaurants and retail stores will start opening in Knox County and Knoxville May 1 for the first phase of the City/County task force reopening plan. 

In surrounding counties, restaurants were able to open their doors Monday. Retailers will be allowed to open their doors on Wednesday. 

State guidelines say that businesses that reopen must remain under 50 percent capacity. Enforcing those guidelines is different for every business, but everyone is ready to do their part.

For big-box stores like Walmart and Home Depot, which are 100,000 to 200,000 square feet large, only one entrance is open with staff counting the people that pass by. Walmart is only allowing 20 percent capacity, which means 5 people for every 1,000 square feet. 

RELATED: Most Knox Co. businesses will reopen May 1 under phased reopening plan

Fruit Jar Alley, a locally owned boutique in Cocke County, is excited to reopen. Their store size makes it feasible to keep control of people coming in and out, like many small businesses. 

And just like with many restaurants, Balter Beerworks in Knoxville will not look the same for a while. Their plan includes temporarily removing tables to keep people socially distant. Staying at half-capacity means they can let in around 100 people at a time, but they also plan to do more curbside orders. 

At The Hoagie Shop in Jefferson County, they can only fit in 50 people a time during regular business, so only 25 are allowed in at a time now. It's a manageable number, but a smaller space. 

They plan to mark off tables to keep people apart and cards will be placed on tables after they are used to be cleaned before the next customer sits. 

RELATED: Gloves, sanitizer and masks: Restaurants reopen, but dine-in won't look the same

Applewood Farmhouse in Sevierville could open right now, but they said they won't open until May 11. It plans to seat every other table and will have a marked off flow of traffic for customers and staff.

It's a new normal that will take some getting used to, but it's in place to keep customers and workers safe. 

Capacity will increase over time. Phase two for Knox County begins May 29. For the state, a specific date has not been announced. 

RELATED: East Tennessee business owners prepare to reopen

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