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Memphis Zoo, Memphis Botanic Garden submit reopening proposals

Attractions require special approval to reopen under specific guidelines

MEMPHIS, Tennessee —

In Shelby County, those with the COVID-19 Joint Task Force said Wednesday people and businesses are largely following the rules since the gradual reopening plan kicked off Monday.

Now, the question is when popular attractions for locals and visitors alike could reopen and under what specific guidelines.Those at those attractions hope to open their doors before or during phase two of the ‘Back to Business’ plan, potentially the week of May 18th. That requires specific outlined plans and approval.

"That's what these really fall into are specialty kinds of venues," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.

In the Memphis Zoo's reopening request to the city of Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, the attraction would operate at limited capacity and require guests wear facial coverings. Indoor facilities would remain closed, playgrounds would initially be off limits and guests could only use a card or Apple Pay.

In the Memphis Botanic Garden's reopening request, only outdoor spaces would open initially and high-touch areas such as the Children's Garden would remain closed.

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"They do rely on a special degree of control, a special degree of consideration to make sure we are doing everything possible to make sure that visitors as well as staff are safe," McGowen said.

The City of Memphis COO also said Wednesday as for those restaurants, stores, and gyms allowed to open earlier this week at smaller capacities, it's been largely 'so far, so good' with people - and businesses - following the rules.

"We have increased capacity in the city of Memphis for code enforcement, our calls have not gone up dramatically but we are taking a proactive approach that we are out there and we are watching," McGowen said.

Thanks to a state grant, free masks will be available starting Thursday at the Shelby County Health Department's main location in downtown Memphis, along with the department's satellite health clinics across the county. One mask will be given out per person.

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