New health department directive impacts Beale Street bars

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new health directive from the Shelby County Health Department will go into effect Monday.

Health Directive No. 9 states any restaurant whose food sales are 50% or less than their alcohol sales has to close, regardless of their licensure by the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission.

This latest move of precaution from the department puts more limits on bars and restaurants, especially those on Beale Street.

With the latest directive, Beale Street, once exempt because of it being a historic district, will now have to comply with regulations.

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FOX13 spoke with a few people out Sunday and the latest news got some mixed reaction

“I think anything that’s going to help support the safety of people in Memphis and people who are visiting down here, I think it’s the right thing to do. Absolutely,” said Dwayne Benjamin who was visiting from Olive Branch.

The new restrictions go into effect at midnight Sunday.

Restaurants will close if more than 50% of their revenue comes from alcohol sales. These businesses will need recent sales numbers from the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission.

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Also, these restaurants can’t have bar seating and alcohol can only be served if customers are eating at tables.

Service for customers is limited to two hours. Closing at 10 p.m. still must be followed as well.

There was a mixed bag of emotions when it comes to the latest restrictions.

“I don’t like it because I do like to come out and drink and eat and support local businesses,” Ashley McCammon told FOX13. “I don’t like that they’re going to be shutting down early because then we can’t come out whenever and support them.”

“The virus can stop spreading so much and the young kids that are out here are treating this as if it’s a joke not wearing their masks. Yeah, I think it’s a good idea,” said Memphian Jamie Bryson.

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McCammon was visiting Beale Street from Arkansas. She said if people are wearing masks, it should be business as usual.

“We’re required to wear masks and that protects us against getting coronavirus. As long as we wear masks, we should be able to go out and still eat and drink,” she said.

Olive Branch resident Dwayne Benjamin said the added precautions don’t make sense.

“I think if everybody is following the precautions why are you shutting down early? You know what I mean? You’re asking us to follow precautions, which I have no problem with, but don’t ask us to follow precautions if you’re going to shut down early,” Benjamin said.

Restaurants will close if more than 50% of their revenue comes from alcohol sales. Owners must provide a food affidavit to confirm their numbers.

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