9/15 COVID-19 press conference: Hope for limited-service restaurants

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, provided a glimmer of hope for local businesses in today’s COVID-19 press conference.

He said that due to 7- and 14-day downward trends, he anticipates revisions to the health directive next week. There will still be restrictions, but “we will allow some things to be open.”

When pressed by a reporter, Dr. Randolph said he had received numerous calls from limited service restaurants. “I hear you,” he said, and “we will address that in some form or fashion.”

Randolph continued by saying that all restaurants – full-service and limited-service – will likely be held to the same standards in regard to safety measures and how they operate. He said that increased enforcement would be critical in the reopening, and that a team “will evaluate and assess your establishment according to safety measures in the health directive.” He said it is very important for establishments to have a copy of the directive to make sure they understand the measures.

Of course, the degree to which re-opening is allowed depends on data still coming in this week, reflecting results from Labor Day weekend.

The SCHD’s David Sweat noted that the reproductive rate of the virus has crept back up to 0.94, and that it rising above 1 again would be cause for concern. However, he noted, it rose to 0.94, 0.95 recently and then went back down.

Sweat also noted the health department is working with the University of Memphis investigating 36 COVID-19 cases on campus, including two clusters. One has been verified to be the football team. The second cluster is “not a residence but a group that share activities and training together.” He could not comment on how many infections were students and how many were staff.

The future sounds promising for Max’s Sports Bar, Silly Goose, and other Memphis limited-service restaurants, but let’s keep wearing those masks and social distancing to ensure they get back open. Back tomorrow with more news.