With the stay-at-home order for Tennessee being lifted on May 1st, many businesses throughout the state are preparing for reopening. This means that out of all the major tourist destinations in the country, Pigeon Forge will be the first to slowly reopen its doors to not only locals but tourists looking to take in some Smokey Mountain air.
In our last article, we talked about the growing list of businesses that planned on opening their doors on May 1, 2020 and beyond. This list can be found at the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce. Upon checking it again, it seems that some businesses have decided to push their opening date back, while others have given an opening date that had not done so previously.
Now MaqiQuest in Pigeon Forge has announced that they will be reopening along with Topjump Trampoline and Extreme Arena. What is interesting is that Beyond The Lens museum has now been taken off the list entirely and at the moment, there is no mention of a reopening on their website.
Even more restaurants are being added to the list, including favorites like the Sunliner Diner and Timberwood Grill. It seems that most will be still be offering curbside dining as well (though most always have). However, it is the list of shows and dinner theaters throughout Pigeon Forge that is the most interesting.
In a strange turn of events, it seems that the dinner shows all owned by Dolly Parton have all pushed back their opening date. Previously these shows were all scheduled (and announced) to be open on May 9th. Anyone can tell you who’s driven around town, there were billboards everywhere stating the next shows for Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirates Voyage , Comedy Barn and more would all be opening on that date. Now the status on the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce website state it will be “opening soon”. When might that be?
If you take a look at the website for Pirates Voyage Dinner Show, it seems they have pushed back the soonest reservation for May 23. This lines up with many other businesses in town who want to be open before the busy Memorial Day weekend. None of the businesses will be able to open without following new guidelines issued by the state of Tennessee recently.
A new document was just released to business owners in Tennessee called “Opening Tennessee Responsibly” and it outlines what is expected of restaurants and retailers in order to safely reopen to the public. Keep in mind, this document does not mention hotels. The Governor of Tennessee never forced hotels, motels and short-term rentals to close. However, many did either out of a level of safety or lack of business (or both).
Some of the most important items to mention. Bar areas are not allowed to open. You can only seat 50% of your full capacity. All tables must be kept six feet apart and a maximum of six people per table. Also, no live music and employees must wear face coverings and gloves.
This slide goes into a little more detail about sanitation. Each time a table turns, the tables and chairs must be sanitized. Menus must be sanitized between each use. Plus, no self-serve buffets or shared condiments or beverage stations can be utilized.
What isn’t mentioned. How often do employees have to change gloves? What kind of solution is used to sanitize? How thorough do you need to be? There are still several questions that I don’t think this document answers.
The retail stores are even more confusing. While again, we are seeing limits to store capacity of 50%, this leaves a lot of questions that are unanswered. For example, why must a retailer stagger breaks and meals to promote social distancing when they can work side-by-side at a register or stocking shelves all day? Plus, it says customers “should” wear masks, but it doesn’t require them to.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Pigeon Forge and the state of Tennessee handles these reopening procedures. We expect to see many more updates as this story progresses. What are your thoughts? Are these new protocols enough to bring you back to shopping and dining?
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