In today’s COVID-19 task force press conference, it was announced that there were complaints of businesses – particularly restaurants – open when they should not have been over the Labor Day weekend.
The health department has had inspectors out the past few weekends. Initially, the inspectors’ role was education and engagement, attempting to assist facilities with coming into compliance. However, for businesses that have been through that phase, the inspectors came back with enforcement in mind. They visited 12 establishments over the weekend, and found 6 to be fully in compliance, and 5 not in compliance. (No idea what happened to the other one – they didn’t say.)
The 5 businesses out of compliance were closed, in a coordinated effort with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, MPD, and local police departments within the county. Health department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said those businesses must remain closed until given permission to open by either Dr. Bruce Randolph, county health officer, or herself. If they reopen before receiving such permission, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Kendall Downing of WMC asked if a list of those 5 businesses will be released. Health department official David Sweat said they had been given permission to release the list and that the department’s communications officer will get that out. I will have the list on this blog as soon as I am made aware it has been released.
(Edit: That list, per The Daily Memphian: The Indulge Lounge, 5959 Winchester; In Love Memphis, 7144 Winchester; Dubai Hookah Bar, 6700 Winchester; Menue Club, 6642 Winchester; and Height Lounge, 6813 Winchester. The place I heard got shut down is not on this list.)
Dr. Randolph advised business owners to read Health Directive No. 11 and let that be your guide as to whether you can be open, and if so what precautions you must take. He pointed out that several categories of business including limited-service restaurants, beer gardens, wine bars, and those f*cking party pedal bikes that Downtowners hate are supposed to be closed right now.
Dr. Randolph reminded patrons of full-service restaurants that they should keep their masks on until their food arrives. When seated at a table of no more than 6, you can be within 6 feet of those in your group but should not be within 6 feet of any other person at a table.
Mayor Lee Harris stressed that the main focus is on schools and education, and that getting other businesses open and increasing capacity at football games are secondary goals.
David Sweat discussed a glitch yesterday where 125 new cases were reported yesterday out of only 160 tests. There were actually more than 1500 tests reported yesterday.
Sweat said the numbers are trending in the right direction, except the positivity rate which has stuck stubbornly around 11%. He reminded the public that no contemplation of additional reopening will happen until two weeks after Labor Day weekend.
Sweat addressed a question about COVID-19 concerns as the temperature begins to decline during the fall months. He said that the virus is very little susceptible to weather, climate, temperature. However, he noted that as temps cool off, people will spend more time inside, which could lead to additional spread of the virus. He said it’s currently flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, and the same practices that have slowed the spread of COVID have been found to slow the spread of the flu (social distancing, masking, hand washing).
That’s it for today’s recap and I will be back with a list of the five businesses that were closed as soon as that information is put out there. (Now out there; scroll up to view.)