What’s the future of masking in Shelby County now that the requirement is gone?

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Memphis business owners are faced with a choice, to continue requiring masks or ditch them.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Shelby County Health Department lifted the mask mandate but it still recommends people mask up indoors.

SEE MORE: Shelby County drops mask mandate; masks still required in schools

Michael Patrick, the owner of Rizzo’s said he’s okay with customers being mask-free but he’s still on the fence when it comes to his employees.

“In my opinion, I just don’t want to let our guard down,” said Patrick.

SEE MORE: Shelby County health leaders are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about falling COVID case numbers

Patrick is relieved things are going back to normal.

At the same time, he wants to avoid possible COVID-19 infections among his staff at Rizzo’s on South Main street.

Patrick said a few employees are unvaccinated. So, he needs time to think before making a decision to require masks or not.

“It’s just about being safe, you know. The last thing we want is for two or three of the employees to get COVID and we shut down,” said Patrick.

Meanwhile, the general manager of Alchemy, Camille Jones, said she wants her employees to make their own decisions when it comes to masking.

We are looking forward to being able to express ourselves better. Serving is all about being able to project yourself. So, I think it will be pretty exciting for everyone,” said Jones.

SEE MORE: Reaction mixed after Shelby County drops mask mandate

She said most of their staff is vaccinated. So, she believes they won’t be wearing masks.

“I’m excited, I think it signifies a return to normalcy, especially with the cases dropping,” said Jones.

Overall, both Patrick and Jones agree, it’s a relief to no longer argue with customers who refuse to wear masks inside their businesses.

They are staying positive and believe things will only get better from here.

“The restaurant industry has been through so much and I have a lot of passion for the industry. So, I’m excited it will be stable from now on,” said Jones.