MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis bars and restaurants are getting a boost starting today with the Shelby County Health Department loosening restrictions on businesses.
Along with increasing capacity to 50 percent, those loosened restrictions are allowing the return of live music in the Bluff City, a welcomed sight to musicians and restaurant owners.
Inside Neil’s Music Room in East Memphis, you can groove all night.
“We’ve been off for about a month, and we’re glad to be back,” said Neil Hein, owner of Neil’s Music Room.
Saturday was a much anticipated night at Neil’s.
“When we got live music, that’s when we’re rocking and rolling and that’s what we look forward to getting back to,” he said.
They let the good times roll for the first time since the Shelby County Health Department shut down live music performances with Health Directive 16 on December 26th amidst rising COVID-19 cases.
The loss of live music for long periods this past year has been tough on venues and restaurants like Neil’s Music Room.
“Our main source of income is who is on that stage,” said Heins. “And we’ve been doing it 28 years.”
Elmo Thomas, with Elmo and the Shades, told WMC “It’s been pretty sparse.”
Health Directive 17 went into effect Saturday morning allowing live performances with an 18-foot barrier between the performers and the audience.
Musicians like Elmo Thomas said they’ve missed this a lot.
“Not being able to make a living, it’s frustrating,” said Thomas. “We’ve been lucky to have a little job here or there but it’s not just the money. It’s kind of what I do and what we are.”
Local musicians and the many restaurant owners who rely on them to bring in money plan to.
Hoping with COVID-19 vaccines in the process of distribution, that this is the last time they have to stop the music.
“All we can do is hope and wish for the future you know,” said Heins, “Things got to get back to normal Chris, I pray they do and I truly believe they will.”
Thomas said it might be quicker than we think.
The newest health Directive allowed all businesses to reopen.
The SCHD said they’re focusing more on personal responsibility for how COVID-19 will affect Shelby County moving forward.