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Memphis businesses prepare for Phase 3

75% occupancy rate allowed at majority of types of businesses in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Monday, June 15, Shelby County will enter Phase 3 of its COVID-19 Back to Business reopening plan. So, what does that mean if you want to go to the gym, the store, or even go see a movie? And are we ready? 

"For now, to me, it's a little over the top," said Jay Etkin, gallery owner.

Gallery owner Jay Etkin is concerned we may be entering Phase 3 of the Back to Business plan too soon. Etkin doesn't have a lot of daily foot traffic at this gallery so moving to Phase 3 won't effect his day-to-day business, but restrictions do effect other parts of his business. For example, this weekend he is holding art opening on social media instead of in person. 

"We're not hosting any special events, no parties or art openings," said Etkin.

Just down the street in the Cooper Young district, the folks at Young Avenue Deli say they are ready for Phase 3.

"More people, more business, more dollars captured. We have worked hard in every phase," said Tessa Pascover, Young Avenue Deli General Manager.

Phase 3 allows 75% capacity at restaurants, libraries, gyms, retail, grocery, and hardware stores. 

Entertainment venues such as movie theaters, auditoriums, and sports venues can open if there is space and a social distancing plan. Purposeful groups of more than 50 can now meet with an approved social distancing plan, but for now, festivals, parades, public events, and races are still prohibited unless a plan is approved.

The future of pools and bars are still to be determined. The Shelby County Health Department will approve plans regarding space and social distancing.

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While the Shelby County Health Department feels it is safe to move into Phase 3, here is what one leading infectious disease expert said about it. 

"I'm certainly concerned when you first look at the fact that the numbers are rising, not only here, but in quite a few states," said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist.

Now that we are about to go into Phase 3, Etkin's next question?

"What has to happen for them to say we are finished with Phase 3? Has there ever been a mention of Phase 4? I don't recall that," said Etkin.

Nope, there is no Phase 4 according to the Health Department. Phase 3 is essentially our new normal. So, the bottom line: it's a go for Phase 3 Monday, unless something drastically changes between now and then.