Restaurants reopening in Hamilton County on Monday

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Governor Lee announced specifics of the phased reopening of businesses in Tennessee on Friday.

Restaurants can begin serving customers inside on Monday; retail stores can welcome back customers on Wednesday.

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And Hamilton County is going along with his times and guidelines.

That includes the towns of Collegedale, Red Bank, East Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Walden, Lakesite and Ridgeside.

Right now, Signal Mountain and Chattanooga are the only holdouts (Signal Mountain will decide on Monday… Chattanooga will announce their schedule next week).

Mayor Jim Coppinger laid out the plan on Friday afternoon.

Still no churches, music venues, bars or salons.  Those come later.

Restaurants will have this weekend to make sure they comply with the following rules:

— they can only serve 50% of their seating capacity

— tables 6 feet apart

— limit of 6 diners per table

— social distancing in waiting areas

— no buffets, self-serve drink or condiment stations

— customers should expect to be asked by management if they feel ill/have symptoms

— workers wear face protection and gloves

— disposable menus and silverware

— owners must sanitize chairs and tables for each new customer

— must sanitize surfaces every 2 hours

Resaturants can expect a visit from inspector Bonnie Deacons.

And customers can call the county hotline to report violations (Health Department at (423) 209-8383 or Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration at (423) 634-6424).

Mayor Coppinger says every complaint will be investigated.

However, he is trusting that the restaurant owners will do the right thing.

“See, here’s the thing. And I truly believe this. We’ve come along way with the education and awareness piece of this COVID virus and what we’re saying to the restaurants is we’ve got enough confidence in you that you’re going to adhere to the rules. I have confidence that the restaurants are going to play by the guidelines. If they don’t we will step in.”

Retail stores will face similar restrictions, like no congregating in groups of more than 10 people (they are allowed to have more than that in the store… 50% of their capacity.. but the customers cannot be congregated together for any purpose).

For the rest of the businesses not covered on Monday or Wednesday, officials are still discussing how and when to open them safely.

But the restrictions could stay with us for quite awhile.

Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes said today “We all have to learn to live with this virus. ”

“It’s going to be with us until either we get treatments or a vaccine, so learning to live with it..  it’s part of balancing living with this virus and having an economy too.”