MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis ordinance requiring people to wear masks in the city limits of Memphis has been in effect for about five days. Businesses who don’t make their employees and customers comply could be shut down.
”He said there’s a new ordinance right here in Memphis. You gotta wear a mask,” said Donald Staufenbiel.
Staufenbiel found that out at a soup kitchen where he was given a mask.
There are plenty of businesses with signs on their doors warning people to wear a mask and if they don’t they are turned away.
However, if you take a look at Kroger in Midtown you can see a lot of customers not wearing masks and other shoppers are taking notice.
Since Friday, at least five 311 complaints have been filed from people worried about masks at the store.
One reason could be there is no sign on the door warning people masks are required. A Kroger spokesperson told WMC Action News 5 that signs are being made and should go up Tuesday at Kroger stores in Memphis.
Under the ordinance, essential businesses like big box and grocery stores, hardware stores and restaurants are supposed to turn people away who are not wearing masks.
Jennifer Sink, chief legal officer for the city of Memphis, says code enforcement will investigate complaints about businesses where people are not wearing masks.
“Code Enforcement will go to the business, inspect what’s going on and educate the manager or owner of the business about the requirement,” said Sink.
The city so far has gotten about 50 complaints. Right now businesses will be issued warnings but that could change down the road.
“If we see businesses aren’t doing that and people are just going in and risking the public’s health, then the city has the ability to close down businesses,” said Dr. Jeff Warren of the Memphis City Council.
Warren says the city hopes people will comply and drastic measures will not have to be taken. He says masks do offer protection as well as social distancing.
“They’re six times more effective than nothing on your face,” he said.
Warren says if you have a medical issue where you can’t wear a mask he suggests a plastic shield. He says the shield is not as good as a facial covering but it is better than nothing.
If you would like to report a business that is not following the ordinance, call 311.