Tuesday update: Restaurants can have bar seating now

This morning I noticed a change in the Back-to-Business sector-specific guidelines concerning Phase 2 of re-opening, which Memphis and Shelby County entered yesterday.

For restaurants:

Same as previous phase, but bar areas may be open for seating so long as social distancing protocols are followed. There should be no standing at the bar.

Although the mayors and health officials loosened the Phase 2 guidelines in that respect (and it is MUCH APPRECIATED), they tightened the guidelines in another. Phase 2 will last a minimum of 21 days rather than the previously-published 14. The reason why, County Mayor Harris explained, is that Phase 3 allows large gatherings of up to 250 people, and the task force felt extra caution needed to be taken before deciding to enter that phase.

I’m not sure if the task force intended this, but the 21-day period offers an additional advantage: It will let us see if new cases where the virus is spread over Memorial Day weekend are a cause for concern. Memorial Day weekend is May 23-25. The earliest the task force could consider moving to Phase 3 would be June 8. The virus has about a 14-day incubation period.

A lot more people offer criticism on social media than praise, and the task force committee got plenty of criticism yesterday on social media. It came from both the “moving way too fast” and “moving way too slow” schools of thought. I want to offer some praise: I think the task force is doing just about as close as PERFECT as they can get, given the available data and the pressures to save both lives and businesses/jobs.

Once again, I will use the analogy that life is like a game of poker, in that you have to make decisions based on an incomplete amount of information. Also, there’s a random factor that can be mitigated to a degree, but never controlled. I’ll make the following two observations that apply to both life and poker:

  1. You can’t sit there and do nothing until you have the perfect starting point; if you do, you’ll miss out on way too many opportunities.
  2. Sometimes you get an undesirable outcome, and all you can do is look back and ask yourself if you made the best possible decision based on the information that was available at the time.

During the extended 21-day Phase 2, the Health Department has plans to hire more than 100 people and create a dedicated pandemic unit. Mayor Harris plans for an increase in testing at 201 Poplar during that time period.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies (Downtown location) is hiring. “Motivated team players in the food industry” are invited to apply. Great company to work for.

Cousin’s Maine Lobster is offering an at-home lobster roll kit. The national HQ announced the kit would be available at all their food trucks, and I assume that includes Memphis.

Buddy Albert Nemenz of the band Almost Famous will be the special guest during this week’s Silky O’ Sullivan’s virtual happy hour today from 5 to 6. Venmo @BuddyAlbert to tip him and to request a song. Here’s a look back at his virtual happy hour from a few weeks ago:

Raymond James is upping the stakes against its 50 N. Front landlord, seeking approval to file a second lawsuit. The original lawsuit, filed two years ago, cited issues with elevators and windows. A federal magistrate recommended that lawsuit for dismissal in February of this year. The magistrate found that at least one of the building’s eight elevators was always working. Wow. One out of eight is not very good. Then again, if that was the minimum specified in the contract, it’s Raymond James’ fault for not requesting a higher minimum.

The DM’s Chris Herrington believe ordinances requiring masks could do more harm than good. Herrington notes that while he sympathizes with the idea, enforcement would be problematic. He also points out that masks have become an unfortunate political symbol, and wearing one can cause total strangers to judge you (I, by the way, experienced this myself Saturday).

I have such mixed feelings about requiring masks. I liken the requirement to wear masks to the law outlawing texting while driving – it’s not about the person affected by the law, it’s about the safety of those in the proximity of that person.

The Daily Memphian will live stream the revised Memphis River Parks Partnership proposal for Tom Lee Park tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20, at 3:30 PM. Quite frankly I’m glad this will give people on social media something to argue about other than COVID-19. The new design will not affect BBQ Fest (September 30 to October 3) or Music Fest (October 16-18) this year but the events will have to be moved to 2021.

Our Yoga Downtown happens tonight at 6. Currently the class remains virtual. It’s free and all-levels. YOGA!

Governor Bill Lee was in the Edge District yesterday, touring the new COVID-19 overflow facility in the former CA building at 495 Union. Ideally the building will never have to be used, but it’s great insurance to have in case of a surge.

There will be a live streaming show of Jhene Aiko at the Orpheum tonight from 8 to 11.

For those who are Civil War history fans, the DM’s Michael Nelson has a piece on the siege of Corinth today.

First United Methodist resumes its burrito ministry today and is looking for volunteers. They plan on making burritos and setting up a hand-washing station at 4, then serving guests at 5 while observing proper distancing and sanitary procedures.

Dylan at the Silly Goose is working on something new… he had me sample a piece of chicken yesterday, tender and juicy and described as “the oyster” of the chicken, cooked in a sauce he made with hot peppers he had on hand. All who tried it agreed the chicken would be tasty on a wood-fired pizza. If the idea turns into something I’ll make sure to post it.

High in the low 70s and a pleasant northwest wind… be sure to get outside today if you have a chance. We probably won’t see another day like this until late September. Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if anything big comes up.