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Restaurant owners hit with COVID-19 restrictions, again

On Friday, the Shelby County Health Department announced health directive 15, tightening restrictions on bars and restaurants.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Once again, the Shelby County Health Department has tightened restrictions on bars and restaurants following weeks of rising COVID-19 cases.

The tougher measures also come after a rise in hospitalizations. 

Earlier this week, the health department warned that they would issue a new health directive - saying the county was getting dangerously close to triggering ‘tripwires.’

“My first reaction is, of course, disappointment for my staff and you know everybody,” said Jock Marx, the regional manager of Tin Roof on Beale Street. 

Marx said the newest health directive announced Friday will hurt his restaurant's income.

“It also takes out that late night element, " he said. "Going out after you go somewhere or go get dinner or something. It will cut into the sales significantly, and it’ll hurt the staff and their pockets.”

The new restrictions from the Shelby County Health Department will require restaurants to limit seating capacity to 50%, close by 10 p.m., limit groups to no more than 6 people (with no more than 4 adults) and require customers to wear masks at all times except when actually taking a bite and drinking.

Alchemy owner Nick Scott said the new mask guideline while eating will take extra planning to enforce,

“It’s going to be hard to regulate everyone keeping their mask on while they're eating except when they take a bite,” said Scott.   

“I understand their point, but I’m not sure how feasible that is," said Marx. "You’d literally have to have a hall monitor.”

Business owners said while they understand the need to keep patrons safe, the guidelines are frustrating and feel like a step backwards.

“it’s going to be a little bit tough obviously there’s some that were wobbling and it’s really going to set them back a little bit,” Marx said. 

“Some of us will be able to make it," commented Scott. "I think some of us won’t. It’s tough already.”

The health department says Shelby County can provide funding up to $5,000 for any business facing closure of at least 30 days that's related to health directive 15.

Schools are strongly recommended to suspend all school-related close contact sports.

Meanwhile, gyms are allowed to remain open, but the health department stressed all employees and guests are required to wear masks or facial coverings at all times except when swimming or showering. 

The new health directive takes effect on Monday.

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