Through many months of adjusting to the new lifestyle that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about, many people have been seeking some small sense of normalcy wherever they can find it. For some, this includes dining out. Many Chattanooga restaurants have begun opening their doors with newly developed protective measures in place to fulfill this need and maintain revenue. Though how do we know it is truly safe?
I sat down with three citizens who work in the Chattanooga restaurant industry to get the insider information on this matter. To protect their positions within the restaurants that will be discussed, these interviewees will remain anonymous.
Employee number one works for a very popular brunch spot in Chattanooga called The Daily Ration. I asked her to describe the protective measures The Daily Ration has put into effect. “Well, at the beginning of the pandemic The Daily Ration remained open for to go orders, with staff wearing face masks all the time and using contactless order pick up. Staff was super limited, with only one or two employees working the front area at a time. Though now we have reopened outdoor seating and have most of the employees back full time. We try to encourage social distancing, but if i’m being honest our seating isn’t 6 feet apart.” It is important to note that the CDC restaurant guidelines suggest six feet of distance being placed between each dining table and no more than six individuals dining.
Employee number two works for the highly esteemed 1885 Grill located in St.Elmo. She describes the protective measures as “Definitely there, but not highly enforced. Sometimes I think we hit our capacity because we have indoor and outdoor seating right now and I’m not sure all of the guests follow the protocol. We (the employees) take them seriously because we have to, but the guests seem to do whatever they want and at the end of the day we need our tips.”
Lastly, our third employee comes from Rodizio Grill located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. He describes their protective measures as “Very safe and very serious.” Adding that all employees are given thick face masks to wear at all times, customers are given only disposable dishware and cutlery, and nothing can be touched twice without the washing of hands.
All in all it seems as though Chattanooga may have some work to do in creating cohesion among restaurant policies regarding Covid-19. Perhaps the most concerning conclusion that can be taken away from these interviews is that none of the employees mentioned vigorous sanitation policies except for Rodizio Grill. The Tennessee Pledge restaurant guidelines press the importance of proper and frequent sanitation measures.
Please note a mandate for all Tennesseeans was released on July 1st that now requires face masks to be worn when in public. So, is it safe? You decide.