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Another group of Memphis & Shelby County bars and restaurants barred from reopening

A federal judge denied a group of eight bars and restaurants a temporary restraining order against the Shelby County Health Department.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thursday, Judge John Fowlkes denied a temporary restraining order for the eight businesses fighting against the Shelby County Health to reopen. Under Health Directive No. 8, the SCHD shut down "limited service" restaurants as a way to contain the spread of Covid-19.

"There is no doubt that Health Order No. 8 is imperfect," Fowlkes said. "But, the temporary closure of limited service restaurants is rationally related to the legitimate interest of slowing the spread of COVID19."

Fowlkes noted in his ruling the "frustration" these business have, as there is no hard evidence to prove that them staying open will spread the virus.

"Plaintiffs are understandably frustrated that there is no scientific evidence connecting the spread of COVID-19 to the operation of limited service restaurants in Shelby County," Fowlkes said. "Unfortunately, Plaintiffs’ frustrations, while valid, have no place in the rational basis analysis."

Fowlkes said the SCHD has the discretion to enforce its police power "to protect the health and safety of the general public during times of 'great dangers.'" He also acknowledged the financial hardship this health directive places on the businesses.

"There is absolutely no doubt as to the sincerity of Plaintiffs’ desire to open their businesses and generate revenue, which in turn pays the wages of many employees and allows the establishments to stay in business," Fowlkes said. "The Court recognizes the many hardships imposed by Health Order No. 8. However, Defendants’ decision to temporarily close Plaintiffs is legally sound."

Those affected by Thursday's ruling are: 

  • Blind Bear
  • The Hi Tone Cafe
  • Cheers of Millington
  • Alchemy
  • Silly Goose
  • Dru’s Place
  • Max’s Sports Bar
  • Stage 64 Lounge