NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Economic Recovery Group announced Friday that, beginning May 22, they will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail “to instead focus on social distancing best practices.”

In addition, guidelines will be released early next week to “facilitate the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions on or after May 22”.

This does not impact six of the state’s counties including Davidson, Shelby, Madison, Hamilton, Knox, or Sullivan Counties that will continue to follow local guidance and county-specific reopening plans.

“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen. Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Our state continues to see downward trends in case growth and meets the White House criteria for a phased reopening. This progress has been hard-won, and we can build upon it by reopening while also maintaining common-sense safety measures like mask-wearing and good hygiene. By taking the Tennessee Pledge, our businesses can reopen in a way that protects the health of their customers and employees, and protects the livelihoods of hard-working Tennesseans.”

The new Large Attractions guidance applies to those businesses that can effectively practice social distancing with strong measures to protect both employees and customers, including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums and more. Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place for the time being. Updates to restaurant guidance will include a lift on capacity restrictions, allowing for increased service as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to, including 6 feet between tables. 

The updated guidelines come as Tennessee continues to meet the White House criteria for phased reopening including downward trajectory of cases and symptoms over a 14-day period.

The state says hospital capacity remains sufficient to meet the needs of patients, and they are continuing to meet the goal of testing 2 percent of the population per month.