MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Starting Monday, a new health directive issued by the Shelby County Health Department will begin. The directive requires restaurants to hold limited capacity and close earlier.
- Any establishment that serves food and/or alcoholic beverages is required to:
- Limit occupancy to 50%
- Close at 10 pm
- Require patrons to wear masks at all times except when actually eating a bite of food or drinking a beverage
- Limit groups dining together to 6 people (but no more than 4 adults)
- Schools are strongly encouraged to suspend all school-related close-contact sports at this time.
- Gyms remain open at this time. All employees and patrons are required to wear masks or facial coverings at all times while in the facility, except when in the swimming pool or shower.
- Shelby County Government expects to be able to provide special financial supports of at least $5,000 for any business that faces closures of at least 30 days that is substantially related to Health Directive No. 15. More details will be forthcoming.
The president of the Memphis Restaurant Association told WMC Action News 5 he was briefed by the Shelby County Health Department Friday afternoon.
“I’m disappointed,” said MRA President Ernie Mellor. “I understand where the health department is coming from. I’m fearful for myself and all my compadres that are in our industry. I feel this will have an impact certainly on our amount of income we can generate. But it’s going to have an impact on businesses staying alive.”
Health department officials have said for days they would consider additional restrictions, citing COVID-19 cases increases of roughly 450 a day over the past seven days.
“I love coming out to the neighborhood places and the small restaurants. And I hate that they are under such pressure. I just want them to be successful because we want to see them here six months from now,” said Jess Blumenfield.
“I think we need to do what we have to do to be safe,” said Connie Donaldson.
Health department officials have said the tightened restrictions will need to be in place for two incubation periods of the virus, at least 28 days, to make an impact.
Mellor said the increased spread of the virus and the added restrictions put restaurants in an unwinnable situation.
“Now you’re cutting more back and people are more afraid than they were. And now you are staying open and praying people will come in and purchase from you or dine with you, or take home from you,” said Mellor.