Increasing COVID-19 cases could lead to more business restrictions, SCHD says

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Friday could be a difficult day for restaurant and bar owners if the Shelby County Health Department releases a new health directive which could add more restrictions to businesses.

Just the hint of this has bar owners worried that they might have to shut down.

The owner of Silly Goose, Daniel Masters, said even if the health department shuts down all the bars people will continue to host house parties and cases will still spike.

He’s worried his business won’t make it through another shutdown.

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“We keep trying to get our heels dug in and we get knocked down,” said Masters. “It would be another huge blow before the end of the year for us. It’s going to hurt us a lot.”

Masters said he just re-hired his employees and would lose a lot of inventory if bars are shut down again. He argues that closing down bars will not solve any problems.

“This culture that goes out, they aren’t going to stop going out. They will go to house parties that are not subjected to rules or health department guidelines,” said Masters.

During a news conference Tuesday, the Shelby County Health Director hinted she might add more restrictions.

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Dr. Alisa Haushaulter said there is a lot of COVID-19 transmission at bars, restaurants, gyms, and small gatherings.

“This is a very challenging time and it’s critical that we stay the course and focus on individual decision making. - decisions for our families and decisions for our communities,” said Haushalter.

Haushalter said if the first three groups of tripwires are met, the health department will close bars and put restrictions on sports and restaurants.

For this to happen the Memphis-Shelby County area needs to see a seven-day average of 450 cases a day.

Right now we are very close to that with an average of 424 cases on Wednesday.

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Another factor is the virus reproductive rate which calculates the disease’s ability to spread. A reproductive rate of one is bad while under one is good. On Tuesday Dr. Haushaulter said we have a reproductive rate of about 1.2

The health department will also look at positivity rates.

“If we continue in the same direction, we will have to make decisions that are county-wide decisions,” said Haushalter.

Masters said he is very worried and doesn’t know what to do if bars are forced to close again.

“I don’t think it’s worth it because it’s not going to do any good to help the numbers. It’s a scapegoat to feel like somethings happening but it will ruin a lot of people’s lives,” said Masters.

The new health directive could be announced Friday.

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