Beale Street reopens with new guidelines

Beale Street reopens with new guidelines

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Guidelines for Memphis' most famous street have changed.

Normally, Beale Street would be packed on Memorial Day weekend. This year, things are different - as special rules are in place specifically for Beale Street businesses.

Visitors are once again taking trips to Memphis and Beale Street for multiple reasons — one group of sisters missed each other during quarantine.

"We decided we needed a little bit of a sister-fix and give a hug,” said Gwen Music, visiting from Texas.

Two visitors from Illinois just desperately wanted to get out of the house.

"We gonna find something good to eat and then we're going to party,” said Junika Thornton, visiting from Illinois.

As the majority of the country reopens businesses, including Shelby County, tourism in Memphis is slowly returning according to Memphis Tourism CEO Kevin Kane.

"It's pretty exciting. We're finding people as far away as Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Chicago,” said Kevin Kane, CEO of Memphis Tourism.

Visitors will encounter recently-changed guidelines for businesses on Beale during Memorial Day weekend.

While there’s still no live music, recorded music can now be played, bar seating reopened this week and pedestrians are only allowed on the sidewalks to limit crowds.

"I know a lot of them really were happy to get the bar seating back,” said Jennifer Oswalt, president of Downtown Memphis Commission.

Downtown Memphis Commission President Jennifer Oswalt says they're taking extra care with unique regulations on Beale Street for a reason.

"It is unique. It's the only entertainment district in the city and it's the only place in the state that you can have open container. And so we just have to take special precautions to keep people safe,” said Oswalt.

Some Beale Street patrons said the special regulations help make them feel safer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It’s still a very ‘grab and go’ feel, which I feel is good. You don’t want people in close proximity, especially for like long periods of time. So I think they’re doing as much as they can,” said Bill Holcomb, who recently moved to Memphis.

"It's a little different but I feel like they're doing everything they need to do to keep everybody safe,” said Byron Clark, Memphian.

This week, business hours were extended for Beale Street businesses from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Downtown Memphis Commission gets information and guidelines about regulating Beale Street from the Shelby County Health Department and will help decide when it’s safe to remove more of the guidelines on Beale.

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