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What businesses opening in phase one of Knox County's plan need to know

Phase one of Knox County's reopening plan starts Friday, May 1. It will allow most businesses to open with strict social distancing and sanitization guidelines.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Phase one of Knox County's reopening plan starts Friday, May 1. It will allow most businesses to open with strict social distancing and sanitization guidelines in place.

Regardless of the business, there are a few key guidelines for all:

  • Wear cloth face coverings when unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of physical distancing
  • Use signs or other marks to indicate 6 feet of physical distancing
  • Use barriers like plexiglass shields to protect employees and customers
  •  Offer or continue to offer delivery or curbside pickup options
  • General sanitation: frequent handwashing, providing hand sanitizer at entrances and exits, routinely sanitizing commonly used surfaces or equipment
  • Encourage people to work at home when possible
  • Minimize non-essential travel
  • Treat every patron and employee as if they are potentially infectious

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

Keeping those guidelines in mind, the following is specific guidance for the businesses opening during phase one.

Office Spaces

  • Encourage telework as much as possible
  • When 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained, employees and patrons must wear face coverings
  • Sanitize surfaces and items between users

Restaurants

  • Curbside pickup and delivery options should still be offered, when possible
  • Indoor and outdoor tables must have 6 feet between them
  • Maximum of 50% capacity based on seating capacity
  • Maximum of 6 people per table
  • At least 6 feet must be maintained in both the kitchen and dining room
  • Diners cannot wait inside or congregate while waiting
  • Bar/counter section within a restaurant is not open for seating or standing
  • Self-service is not permitted
  • Condiments must be single-serve, provided by request only (not tabletop) and cannot be reused
  • Menu boards, single-use menus or sanitizing of menus between each use required
  • Use rolled silverware/napkins stored in sealed bins
  • No live music

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

Gyms/fitness studios

  • Only operate if 6 feet of physical distancing is maintained at all times AND face coverings are worn because heavy breathing while exercising is thought to be an activity that expels significantly more virus than talking.
  • Patrons and employees must be screened for exposure and illness prior to the service 
  • Equipment must be sanitized between users. 
  • Operate with staffed hours only. Guest use is not allowed. 
  • Limit occupancy to five members per 1,000 square feet while also maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing between patrons. 
  • Limit workout times as needed to accommodate members and limited occupancy
  • Equipment should be moved, restricted or marked off so clients can only use machines that are at least 6 feet apart.
  • Members must wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the facility
  • Signs must be visible at the entrance, front desk and throughout the facility stating that sanitizing stations must be used before and after the use of each piece of equipment.

RELATED: Gyms are reopening in Knox County on May 1, but here are some things to keep in mind

Salons/Spas/Tattoo Parlors/Other Personal Care Industries

  • Open by appointment only
  • Seating must be at least 6 feet apart in service areas
  • Patrons cannot wait inside
  • Patrons and employees/service providers must be screened for exposure and illness prior to the service 
  • Client and employee/service provider must wear a cloth face covering if service provided requires worker to be within 6 feet of the client
  • Services that would require the removal of the client’s face covering cannot be performed during Phase One
  • When practical, add plexiglass protective barriers to stations (Required for nail and pedicure stations)

Retailers

  • Provide curbside, pickup and delivery service options, as practical, and encourage their use
  • Limit the number of customers inside a store at any given time, excluding employees and representatives of third-party delivery companies, to 50% of store occupancy based on Tennessee’s Building and Fire Code
  • Distancing floor markers must be used throughout the store. Consider one-way aisle markers, as well. 
  • Add plexiglass protective barriers at registers
  • Sampling of food or products is prohibited
  • Services that would require the removal of the client’s face covering cannot be performed during Phase One

Museums and Galleries

  • Reopen for passive use only (no interactive exhibits)
  • Limit patrons in the museum or gallery to 50% occupancy based on Tennessee’s Building and Fire Code
  • Floor markers must be placed to encourage physical distancing of 6 feet throughout the facility
  • Activity areas for children and interactive displays remain closed
  • Classes are not offered
  • Enhanced sanitation practices

Childcare facilities

Schools

  • Schools should consider CDC guidance, state recommendations and local district guidance (all Tennessee schools have closed for the remainder of the school year)

Institutions of higher education

  • Follow state and federal guidance

Residence halls and other overnight programs

  • Overnight programs not open during Phase One
  • Follow state and federal guidance

Parks, walking paths/trails, dog parks

  • Playgrounds remain closed in Phase One 
  • Open with physical distancing of 6 feet from anyone not in someone’s household
  • No congregating
  • Communal spaces such as bathrooms will be evaluated on a park-by-park basis

Athletic fields and other outdoor congregate settings

  • Not open in Phase One except for single household use
  • Pavilions and shelters are open with physical distancing of 6 feet from anyone not in someone’s household. Maximum of 10 people.

Zoo

  •  Reopen for passive use only
  • Markers must be placed to encourage physical distancing of 6 feet
  • Enhanced sanitation practices
  • Petting zoo is closed
  • Children’s play areas and interactive displays remain closed
  • Classes are not offered

Skateparks, and other outdoor recreation spaces

  • Playgrounds remain closed in Phase One
  • Skateparks, golf courses, tennis courts for singles use only, and other low-interaction/low-touch outdoor recreation spaces are open
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained
  • Communal items at golf courses must be sanitized between users

Places of worship

  • Continue offering video steaming options for as long as possible
  • Only core worship services are permitted in Phase One. Activities such as groups and classes, youth services, social events, potlucks, communal snacks or food, and nursery, are not permitted in Phase One.
  • Limit the number of congregates to 50% capacity based on seating capacity. Seating areas should be marked off to ensure 6 feet of physical distancing in all directions between households.
  • Offer multiple worship sessions to decrease the number of attendees at each session.
  • Do not physically embrace or shake hands with others
  • Physical taking of communion/sacrament should not be performed
  • Singing is discouraged as it is thought to be an activity that expels significantly more virus than talking. 
  • Deep cleaning should occur between services
  • Remove all communal items. Use a donation box instead of tithe plate. 

RELATED: Places of worship can open May 1 in Knox County, but it won’t be prayer as usual

Community centers

  • Not open in Phase One except as needed to provide social service support to individuals (for example, food distribution)
  • Senior Centers are not open in Phase One

Public Transit

Airplanes

  • Continue to operate within guidance from CDC

Rideshare/taxis 

  • Drivers and passengers must wear cloth face coverings
  • Passengers should ride in the back
  • Have tissues and hand sanitizer available for passengers
  • Disinfect vehicle often, especially after dropping off a passenger who appears to be sick or who has come from or is taken to a medical facility

Social gatherings (birthday parties, weddings, funerals, etc.)

  • 10 people maximum.
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet between people not in one’s household. 
  • Wear a cloth face covering when unable to consistently maintain physical distancing.

We can move on to the next phase if the previous phase was successful. That will be based on data, including new cases and deaths. The phases may be adjusted as time goes on and officials learn what works and what doesn't.

Starting on May 1, there will be services available on the Knox County Health Department's COVID-19 website including safety signage and a recognition program display certificate for businesses. There will also be a listserv and virtual trainings that contain practical implementation strategies, real-time updates with notification of mid-phase changes and opportunities to contribute ideas for the next phases.

For more information on specific guidance or resources for reopening, click here.

The following businesses are NOT open during phase one:

  • Drinking-only establishments are not open for onsite consumption
  • Bar or counter areas in restaurants are not open for seating or standing
  • Food truck parks
  • Theaters and other indoor leisure spaces
  • Outdoor large venues (concerts, sports)
  • Indoor large venues (concerts, sports)
  • Contact and noncontact school sports
  • Non-school recreational sports and leagues
  • Summer camps
  • Playgrounds
  • Pools/Splashpads/Beach 
  • Libraries
  • Senior Centers
  • Sports-related mass gatherings: games, tournaments, championships, training
  • Religious-related mass gatherings: large celebrations, festivals, pilgrimages
  • Business-related mass gatherings: trade shows, conferences, conventions, workshops, retreats
  • Entertainment-related mass gatherings: large concerts, festivals, carnivals, conventions, shows
  • Community-related mass gatherings: Rallies, parades, speeches/addresses