Restaurants, attractions prepare for expanded reopenings

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CHATTNAOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Large attractions like concert venues, museums and theaters can reopen in Hamilton County on Friday.

Restaurants and retail will also be able to operate at full capacity — while complying with CDC guidelines.

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The expanded reopenings are encouraging to local business owners.

“I’m grateful to be able to make a living,” said Joan Marie Worsham, owner of Bluegrass Grill.

“We’re excited! Really excited,” said Seth Springer, owner of Chattanooga Horse Trams.



Friday’s reopenings have some concerned as the number of positive COVID-19 cases spike in Hamilton County. However, Mayor Jim Coppinger says the new cases are separate from the state’s rolling reopenings.

“We keep continuing to look at the numbers, and while we have a spike in the number of cases, none of these so far have been related to the reopenings,” Coppinger said in an interview on News 12 Now This Morning. “These are workers that were already doing essential jobs. We’re just taking baby steps to be able to get back to some kind of normalcy.”

The streets in downtown Chattanooga will look a little more normal — as the Chattanooga Horse Trams resume operations. The decades-old Chattanooga staple plans to run operations from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights beginning May 22.

“I was glad because we actually get to get back to work because it’s really hard. Everything’s expensive. We have live animals to feed, and it costs me a lot of money, about $700 a month just to feed horses,” Springer said.

Restaurants can also expand their dine in services, while keeping customers at a safe six foot distance.

Under the new regulations, Bluegrass Grill can now serve about 60 percent of their normal capacity. Owner Joan Marie Worsham is grateful for the additional customers.

“We were open the whole time, for to-gos and curbside,” Worsham said. “But we’ve missed our regular people. I hope that in this reopening to boost the economy people will start getting out and be patient with the restaurateurs as they go through the learning curve.”

As far as Chattanooga’s other top tourist attractions, the Tennessee Aquarium says they will hold off on reopening until mid-June.

The Tivoli Theater will also remain closed. However, the Tivoli Foundation says they are confident the theater will be ready to reopen per CDC standards for the next scheduled event.