Shelby County residents react to governor’s call to ease restrictions, lift mask mandate

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — People in Shelby County are weighing in on Tennessee governor Bill Lee’s request for the county to lift its mask mandate and ease restrictions.

Lee ordered restrictions lifted for most of the state yesterday, but Shelby is one of six counties that has its own health department that can impose its own restrictions.

Shelby County has 30 days to look at the request to end public health orders, ultimately lifting the mask mandate. This comes as Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland extends the Covid-19 State of Emergency.

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FOX13 caught up with customers Wednesday morning outside Bryant’s restaurant in Berclair, and many were talking about Governor Lee’s request.

Shelby County is among six counties across the state being asked to lift its restrictions by May 31st.

Plastic surgeon Greg Laurence was among the diners at Bryant’s. He’s fully vaccinated, but agrees it’s time to move forward.

“I think it makes sense. “Either way we are going to start easing off the masks...We know the outdoors, the chances are almost zero of having someone get infected, so I think it’s time for us to start moving away from mandatory masks,” Laurence said.

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Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said Tuesday he didn’t think now is the time to be talking about lifting the mask mandate. He said he would like to have more people vaccinated before having that conversation.

Folks we talked to say they will simply do what they’re being asked to do.

“I will comply with whatever our local health authorities recommend,” said Wallace Bruce, a man who’s fully vaccinated. “I would urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they possibly can.”

Bill Williams said it’s all perspective.

“I’m thankful that a percentage has (been vaccinated) and I understand it’s 25 percent. That’s a small number but it’s a huge number too, so I’m glad they have. I’ve never even been vaccinated for the flu but I did for this because I got drug up there screaming and hollering,” Williams said.

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We also know the City of Memphis’ legal team is looking at Governor Lee’s request.

You still need to wear a mask in public and social distance in Shelby County, particularly if you’re not fully vaccinated.