Shelby County mayors announce joint “Back to Business” plan for reopening

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — During the Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing Monday, mayors from Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville, Millington, Lakeland, and Arlington joined Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris to unveil their “Back to Business” plan for reopening.

“As we look to reopen, we will base the decision on several criteria, such as the number of new cases are stable or declining for 14 days, our hospitalizations of COVID patients are stable or declining for 14 days, and our hospitals have the capacity to treat all patients. Our testing and tracing capabilities must be sufficient to contain the virus,” Strickland said.

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The reopening will be done through a phased approach and constantly monitored and adjusted.

Memphis’ safer-at-home order is still in effect.

According to Strickland, Phase One of the reopening plan will allow elective surgeries to begin again.

Restaurants will be able to open and operate at 50 percent capacity. Seating in restaurants must allow for social distancing, and employees will be required to wear masks. Paper menus will be required in restaurants, Strickland said.

Non-essential retail stores will be able to open and operate at 50 percent capacity. Employees will be required to wear masks.

FULL LIST: Back To Business: What’s allowed to reopen when?

Libraries will operate at 25 percent capacity, and social distancing will be enforced. Library employees will be required to wear masks.

Churches will also operate at 25 percent capacity.

Gyms and fitness facilities will also operate at 25 percent capacity during the first phase.

Festivals, parades and other community events would be prohibited.

Theaters, salons, barber shops, spas, sports arenas, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues would stay closed during phase one.

No date was set for the reopening.

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Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said there is a moral responsibility to save lives, and said livelihoods are also on the line.

Harris said data will drive the County’s reopening.

Health Director Alisa Haushalter said, “It’s not as easy as that. We actually look at every day. We are looking at data every evening and morning. We are looking at 14 days over time, day-to-day, so if we are looking at today, we’re looking back actually over a period of days 14 days prior.”

Haushalter said we were on a 10-day downward trend, but then we had 248 new cases over the weekend, so they will have to re-evaluate.

She said additional testing sites for COVID-19 will open this week.

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