Biz boost plan highlights: Jacobs unveils 6-week phased approach

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs introduced a six-week plan to phase in the re-opening and expanded services of county businesses, clubs and parks, which was announced Tuesday afternoon, April 14.

“Gov. (Bill) Lee’s decision to extend the Safer at Home Order (through Thursday, April 30) was made taking statewide numbers into account,” Jacobs stated in a press release. “Knox County is one of 95 Tennessee counties, and as long as our community continues to make good and responsible choices, I believe we can, and should, start taking steps to reopen businesses.

“The longer the economy is shut down the more difficult it’s going to be to get it back on track.”

Jacobs developed, “in recent days … a three-page ‘phased reopening’ proposal that he sent to Gov. Lee,” the release further stated.

“The proposal outlines specific guidelines for opening businesses and, if adopted, would have most businesses fully operational within six weeks — barring any significant negative changes in COVID-19 hospitalizations.”

Meanwhile, Knox County’s active COVID-19 cases have begun “to stabilize. As of Tuesday morning, the county had 35 active cases,” the press release stated.

Key details of the proposal:

• Restaurants and bars return to in-restaurant dining gradually.

-Restaurants whose primary business is food service may open to half the seating capacity of their dining area as permitted by the Knox County Health Department, or 100 patrons, whichever is lower. Tables should be spaced, and seating arrangements coordinated, following the public health guidelines of the CDC. Follow this model for the first two weeks.

Open to 75 percent of seating capacity or 150 patrons, whichever is lower, for two additional weeks. Consider opening to full capacity after four weeks of phased reopening.

-Restaurants with an attached bar may follow the above guidelines for the restaurant portion of their facility. The bar area may open to 10 percent of the capacity, specified by a Knox County Health Department permit, with no standing allowed. Follow this model for the first two weeks. Open to 50 percent of bar capacity, or 100 patrons, for two additional weeks. Consider opening to 75 percent of capacity for two additional weeks before resuming100 percent capacity for bar service.

- Require employees to take their temperature or perform a quick health check before reporting to work.

• Concerning retail stores, recommendations and requirements include:

-Credit card docks should be sanitized after each transaction and passing of cash should be limited or restricted.

-All communal use items and products should be limited, including store bags and writing utensils.

-Require employees to take their temperature or perform a quick health check before reporting to work.

• Concerning parks and golf courses:

-Golf carts should remain “no share” and should be washed and sanitized after each use. Playgrounds will remain closed.

• Personal appearance businesses return to full service gradually.

-Open for appointments only with limited capacity to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

-Adjust service area layout as necessary, alternating chairs or stations when possible.

-All communal-use items and products should be discontinued, including writing utensils, magazines, beverages and snack stations.

-Ask customers to use hand sanitizer immediately upon entering facility and again any time a communal surface or item is touched or handled. Ask that customers also wear a mask when in the facility.

- Service providers should always also use gloves when appropriate and wear a face covering.

-Require employees to take their temperature or perform a quick health check before reporting to work.

• Health club modifications include:

-Restricting facility access to staffed hours only and limit club occupancy to five members per 1,000 square feet. Follow this model for four weeks before considering return to full operation and service capacity.

-Adjust equipment layout and close or restrict access to equipment as necessary.

-Require members wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the facility.

-Require patrons to clean equipment with disinfecting wipes before and after use.

-Limit workouts to 45 minutes.

-No sick patrons and employees should be allowed to enter the facility.