Memphis Restaurant Association asks health department to reconsider restrictions in lengthy letter

Restaurant association asks SCHD to reconsider directive

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis Restaurant Association said it wants the Shelby County Health Department to reconsider new restrictions on restaurants put in place this week.

That’s just one of the requests in a new letter sent to health department officials Wednesday, signed by roughly 150 restauranteurs and vendors.

A new health directive that went into effect Monday requires restaurants to cap capacity at 50 percent, close nightly by 10 p.m. and only seat a maximum of four adults to a table with the recommendation they be from the same household.

“We have suffered and survived through shutdowns, fear, and intermittent voids of information, often being left to fend for ourselves in our attempts to decipher directives,” writes Mike Miller, incoming MRA president.

New directive means capacity cuts for restaurants

The association makes a variety of requests of the Shelby County Health Department.

Members said they want the department to reconsider their latest directive, provide a single designated point of contact within the department to answer questions, and give restaurants notice and time to plan when new directives are issued.

The MRA also said the health department should better enforce the directives it is issuing, and they feel restaurants are being unfairly treated.

“We need to generate a positive message to the public; not one that promotes fear,” Miller writes. “The spread of this virus is not solely due to dining out by any stretch, and we are working hard and a great expense to do our part. The restaurant industry should not be vilified or scapegoated in the process.”

Mask restrictions in Shelby County restaurants

Earlier this week, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said she understood business owners’ concerns.

But she indicated she believed the new restrictions were an appropriate compromise, given the number of COVID-19 cases in the county, which is currently averaging about 340 new infections a day.

We understand the economic impact. What we attempted to do was implement the least restrictive measures possible. The option was to close completely or close indoor services. We compromised on that thinking we could take some less restrictive measures,” she said.

The MRA said they want to be part of the solution and further included in health department considerations.

The letter can be read in full below:

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