What is considered an essential or non-essential business in Memphis?

Updated: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:56 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mayors across Shelby County have issued “safer-at-home” orders for residents amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The orders direct all residents to stay inside their homes and limit all movement outside beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs.

Here are what the City of Memphis consider’s essential and non-essential businesses.

Food and Drug

  • Grocery and beverage stores (including stores that sale grocery and non-grocery items necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residents)
  • Restaurants/bars (only for take-out/delivery)
  • Pharmacies
  • Convenience stores
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Food banks
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock and fishing


  • Research and laboratory services
  • Hospitals
  • Walk-in-care health facilities
  • Emergency veterinary and livestock services
  • Eldercare
  • Home health care workers or aides for the elderly, children and people with disabilities
  • Dental services
  • Optometrist
  • Nursing homes or residential health care facilities
  • Blood banks
  • Veterinarian and dog grooming

Transportation & Logistics

  • Gas stations
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Private transportation providers (Uber and Lyft)
  • Airlines/airports
  • Mail and shipping services
  • Auto repair shops
  • Auto Dealers/Retail
  • Auto Parts Retailer
  • Warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
  • Ride Share
  • Bicycle retail/repair

Housing and Real Estate

  • Property management company (Residential and Commercial)
  • Commercial and residential construction
  • Planning, surveying, engineering, design firms
  • Real estate agents/services
  • Home or building cleaning and maintenance
  • Skilled trades such as electricians, HVAC, and plumbers
  • Hardware stores


  • Daycare and childcare services
  • Waste disposal and recycling
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry services
  • Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
  • Lawn care
  • Pest control
  • Locksmiths
  • Legal services
  • Alarm and security companies
  • Businesses that provide services that are necessary to maintain the sanitation, safety, and essential operation of residences and businesses, such as maintenance on HVAC

Human/Charitable Services

  • Child care services
  • Homeless shelters
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities for those in need
  • Services that provide drug/alcohol/mental health counseling and support


  • Medical wholesale and distribution
  • Hardware and building material stores
  • Medical equipment/instruments
  • Food processing, manufacturing agents]
  • Chemical plants
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Paper goods/cardboard
  • Sanitary products
  • Microelectronics/semi-conductor


  • Federal and state offices and services, including post offices and airports
  • Essential Memphis government functions including law enforcement, transportation, and businesses that provide government programs and services


  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Insurance
  • Cell Phone and electronic stores
  • Office supply stores
  • Businesses that provide goods and services exclusively deliver through curbside pickup, drive-thru, shipment or delivery. (This includes any business that did not previously provide goods and services as described but now developed and implemented these delivery methods.)
  • Newspaper/media
  • Personal appearance businesses (hair salons, eyelash salons, barbershop, tattoo shop, body piercing shop, day spas)
  • Retail with no exclusive delivery or curbside pick-up
  • Entertainment and recreation facilities (bowling alleys, trampoline parks)
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Craft/Art Business
  • Gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters
  • Movie theaters
  • Shopping malls
  • Golf courses
  • Sporting event venues
  • Skating rink
  • Dance Schools
  • Private Clubs (except for the provision of food for take-out)

A city spokesperson says Memphis’ legal division crafted this list based on what other cities around the country, including Nashville, are doing in similar situations.

The orders are legally enforceable, though no curfews have been ordered. Details on enforcement are forthcoming.

For more details on what you cannot do under the “safer-at-home” order, click here.

Here is a list of resources for Mid-Southerns impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more stories about the coronavirus pandemic here.

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