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The Shelby County Health Department is discussing the possibility of new guidelines for restaurants and bars

There were 405 new Covid-19 cases reported on Sunday

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The sharply rising number of new cases has the health department looking into more guidelines for restaurants and bars. Since bars and restaurants reopened at a maximum 50 percent capacity in early May, people have been flocking to these places, which has resulted in a greater spread.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain, a member of Shelby County's Covid-19 task force, explained restaurants and bars are being looked at as places for "targeted intervention." These public places have struggled with individuals not wearing their masks properly, so the task force is hoping to find guidelines to enhance masking wearing in restaurants and bars.

"I think in part it’s collective behavior and it’s individual behavior," Jain said. "A lot of individual behavior on masking and distancing is impacting collective behavior."

Jain said before we reopened bars and restaurants our case count was not nearly climbing how it is now, so targeted intervention could find a solution. He hopes the new county-wide mask ordinance will increase the number of people wearing masks in public places.

"We need to be thinking about what we call a broad intervention, even selected target interventions," Jain said. "What are some areas we can work on selectively to make an impact."

Ben Smith, the executive chef and owner of Tsunami Restaurant in Cooper-Young, recently opened just his patio for customers. He said his business is doing really well since reopening for minimal dine-in, but safety for his staff and customers will always be a driving factor in decisions to stay open or not.  

"I fully anticipate, strongly anticipate us going back to a take out model only," Smith said.

Both Smith and Jain said people need to continue taking precautions seriously because these will be in place for the foreseeable future. 

"This is a serious thing," Smith said. "It’s not going to go away on its own. It’s going to take everybody, all of us sacrificing."

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