MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Elvis Presley’s Graceland is ‘taking care of business’ when it comes to opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the attraction is back open starting Thursday, things will look different. Some new memorabilia and social distancing will be on display.
Like a lot of businesses across the country, Graceland was not immune to this pandemic. Its closure hurt its workers and the overall Memphis economy.
“This is a very important and significant day for us in our Back to Business plan,” Memphis Tourism President Kevin Kane said.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland is open with just days to spare before its unofficial kick off to the summer- it’s busiest time of year. But, with the attraction only allowing 25 percent of its daily occupancy in, this summer won’t be breaking any records.
“On a normal Memorial Day weekend we’d get 2,000-3,000 people but we’ll be capping it at 25 percent of that,” VP of Exhibits and Archives at Elvis Presley’s Graceland Angie Marchese said.
Graceland is also monitoring guests’ temperatures and reminding people of social distancing. It creates a unique and never before seen atmosphere for visitors.
“You were kind of by yourself going through [the mansion]. You weren’t being pushed along or rushed,” one visitor from Florida said.
Along with a more private tour of the mansion, there are some new things to see at Graceland including Elvis’ Golden Globe award.
While Elvis Presley Enterprises and city leaders are glad to have Graceland back open, some of its workers are feeling the effects of the pandemic. EPE said 15 people at Graceland were laid off because of the pandemic.
Across the street at the Guesthouse at Graceland a filing with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development showed more than 100 workers laid off there.
Still, people are showing up to Graceland.
“We’ve had people tour so far from Denver, Virginia, St. Louis,” Marchese said.
“We were in Cincinnati for business and took a long trip home,” one visitor, who put Memphis on his trip, said.
Airport numbers are showing some bounce back going from about 450 passengers a day three weeks ago to expecting 2,000 in one day this weekend.
“Graceland isn’t an attraction, it’s an attractor,” Kane said. “It’s why people make Memphis a place to come visit.”