The Requirements for Reopening Restaurants in Tennessee Are “Exhausting”

An eight-page document outlines social distancing, protective gear and temperature checks as the state slowly reopens

A waitress taking an order restaurant on May 2 in Franklin, TN
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Maybe you heard the news about a few states tentatively reopening and hoped life would go back to some sort of pre-coronavirus normal.

As far as restaurants go, we’ve got a long way to go. BuzzFeed News looked at the reopening of 42 of the 200 O’Charley’s restaurants in Tennessee and Georgia to see what kind of changes were in store for post-lockdown meals, and so far it’s very much a work in progress.

The new procedures include: Temperature checks (for guests and employees); questions to guests about potential COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus (although medical professionals and first responders can enter if they answer that they’ve been exposed); people bussing their own trays; and washing hands and glove replacement by employees with each table serve.

The new requirements take up eight pages and one staffer admitted, “I don’t think we should have opened. There’s no possible way for us employees to do what they’re asking us to do. It’s just not possible.” As well, the restaurants are currently understaffed, there weren’t thermometers or enough protective gear for anyone and social distancing between servers and staff (and between kitchen staff) was proving to be impossible, at least at the moment.


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In a statement, an O’Charley’s spokesperson told BuzzFeedNews, “While reopening guidelines vary state to state and even city to city, we have worked diligently to train our team members to be fully compliant with all federal, state and local health mandates. Multiple team members are monitoring those requirements to ensure we meet both government and customer expectations with detailed protocols and procedures.”

One manager thinks the new requirements are possible, but that the time frame was too limited. “The list they made is just very impractical,” the manager said. “I think with more preparation, this could have been done and done well.”

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