NASHVILLE, TN (WLAF) – On Friday, Gov. Bill Lee issued guidelines for restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity as of today.

Multiple local restaurants will be opening inside dining with safety guidelines in place under the “Tennessee Pledge,” which is state guidance to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Some local restaurants and eateries such as Bojangles and the Food City deli said they had “not heard from their corporate office” as far as how the reopening would be implemented or when.

Other area restaurants said they will be opening eating areas at half-capacity.

Charley’s Pizza will be opening half of its dining area only. The buffet will be opened until 7 p.m.

Fazoli’s reopens its dining room Monday at 5 pm until 9 pm.  Seating is limited.  Fazoli’s gets back to its regular dining room hours starting Tuesday from 10:30 am until 9 pm.

The Local will be operating every other table to achieve 50 percent capacity. They will continue with take outs and drive thru.

Big O’s will be opening up it’s dining area. The deli closes at 9 pm.

The Royal Lunch  will be open regular hours with it’s dining room at half capacity.  They will also continue with take outs at the walk up window.

According to the governor, the phased opening of the economy will continue with retail stores later in the week.

Retail businesses can open on Wednesday. Some businesses such as Around The Bin said they are only doing the auction on Facebook from 11am to 2 pm then (at intervals of 3 hours).  Around The Bin said opening times were uncertain right now, but possibly by June.

The state recommends that employees in both industries wear cloth face coverings and that business owners follow federal guidelines for hygiene and workplace sanitation standards related to the pandemic.

Other businesses such as hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms, barber shops, among others will have to wait possibly several more weeks before opening back up.

“We are pursuing a careful, measured approach to reopening our economy that does not depend on heavy-handed mandates but instead provides practical tools for businesses of all sizes,” Lee said, adding that the state would be expanding testing as the economy reboot occurred. According to officials, there will be pop up test sites across the state. Health officials also encouraged people to continue social distancing as the economy restarts.

The governor said Tennesseans were “facing not just potential sickness but crippling financial hardship, particularly in the service industries.”

Local salon business owner Kayla Newman with Salon 150 is feeling that hardship. She said that while she wanted to reopen, she understood the reasons behind businesses such as hers having to wait a bit longer.

“You can’t social distance doing hair, and I can’t obtain masks or gloves or other safety cleaning equipment right now with the shortage anyway,” Newman said.  She said she had been getting phone calls from people wanting to know when she would reopen, but it was out of her hands.

“We have not received any information from the state about when salons can officially open and in the meantime, I’m just trying to keep myself and others safe,” Newman said. Newman, like other small business owners, is feeling the affects of being out of business temporarily.

“It’s hurt all of us, big and small,” Newman said. To help better understand and address the economic impact of the pandemic, Lee’s administration assembled the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group, pulling together the state’s departments of tourism, economic development, and revenue, members of the Tennessee General Assembly, and business leaders to safely reboot Tennessee’s economy.

The group is chaired by Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell.

Ezell said the state’s guidelines for restaurants and retail stores were developed in cooperation with business leaders in both sectors, mayors from across the state, and members of the legislature and health experts, as well as Unified Command which includes the Tennessee Department of Health. He added the reopening of future sectors would be accomplished with similar input from industry leaders and elected officials.

No official word has been announced regarding when elective surgeries and other elective medical procedures can commence, but officials said it is expected soon. Tourism from out-of-state travel is still being discouraged and no information has been announced on when the tourism industry will reopen.

According to  Lee, the economy needs to be a “gradual return to normal in order to not overwhelm the system” … and social distancing needs to continue. “Everyone needs to continue to do your part to stay apart,” Lee said.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/27/2020-6AM)