Mid-South business headlines: How the mask ordinance could affect businesses in Memphis

Mid-South business headlines: How the mask ordinance will affect businesses in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland signed an ordinance that would require residents to wear a mask or facial covering in public.

That ordinance was passed last week by the City Council but it does include some exemptions. For those that the ordinance applies to, failure to comply will result in a Class C misdemeanor.

Memphis City Council votes to make masks mandatory

Greg Akers, editor-in-chief of the Memphis Business Journal, shared with us how this ordinance will affect businesses.

“If they’re an essential business, if they’re non-essential, it doesn’t matter -- they do have to wear masks,” said Akers. “And they’re going to get in trouble if they don’t. If it’s found that they were lax in doing so, they get three warnings, and then after that, there’s a $100 fine for each infraction.”

Akers says if the infractions continue Strickland has the power to take businesses to court along with the use of other legal actions to enforce the ordinance.

Basic guidelines for the mask ordinance:

  • Masks are required in places of business, while using public transportation, in a hospital or doctors office and when you enter a restaurant or bar (once you’re seated the mask can be removed).
  • Children under the age of 12 do not have to wear a maks.
  • There’s no fine for individuals but they can receive a warning. The fines are applicable to businesses only at this time.

Akers says prior to the ordinance, it was difficult for business owners to legally enforce mask-wearing among their customers.

“What I think this does is gives good legal protection, legal justification, for business owners who want to enforce it but when it was just kind of a suggestion it made it difficult to do that,” he said. “Made it difficult to kick a customer out a business for not following that guidance. But now that its an actual regulation they have to post what the law is and the law requires them to decline service to members of the public who refuse to wear a mask.”

Akers says though this may be a hassle for businesses, mask-wearing is essential to the recovery of Memphis considering its current standing with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

You can find this story and more online at MemphisBusinessJournal.com

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.