More and more businesses close after new health directive

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More businesses in Memphis are closing their doors after the new health directive went into effect his week.

The Memphis Restaurant Association said there have been between 15 to 20 businesses that have either temporarily or permanently closed. They said there’s a fear that things will only get worse in the coming weeks.

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“New Year’s is coming up and after New Year’s we think we’ll probably see more closures going on. 25 percent is too much on the margins of restaurants. We don’t have a big margin to play with anyway,” said Tony Westmoreland.

Westmoreland is the owner of several restaurants throughout Memphis and he’s also a member of the Memphis Restaurant Association. He says this week there have been more restaurants closing due to a lack of business.

“Alchemy’s closed down, another business has closed down, we’ve closed down two locations.”

The association said local businesses are more likely to permanently close. Dozens of employees have lost their jobs.

“We had almost 100 employees when COVID started and we’re down to 40. It’s not just our employees, but it’s our vendors and people we buy product from. They’re feeling it too,” said Westmoreland.

The Memphis Restaurant Association has put together a survey on its website to get public input about the closure of dining rooms. They’ll forward the data to the Shelby County Health Department and mayors to vocalize how businesses are being impacted.

Westmoreland said these businesses can’t take much more struggle to survive.

“Maybe we’ll get through this in a few months with the vaccine, but I hope we get beyond this by the spring and summer of this coming year,” said Westmoreland.