Restaurant and bar employees react to the latest health directive by the Shelby Co. Health Department

Restaurant and bar employees react to the latest health directive by the Shelby Co. Health Department
SCHD loosens restaurant and bar restrictions

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Bars and restaurants across Shelby County are closed now, but that is about to change due to a new health directive by the Shelby County Health Department.

The Shelby County Health Department released new guidelines allowing bars and restaurants to remain open two hours later until midnight.

“I’m a bartender so the service industry has suffered so much from the restrictions, and I do believe the later they can stay open, the better it is for the business,” Felicia Oglesby said.

Alex Moseley, manager at Alchemy in Cooper Young, says the restaurant has been and will continue to follow safe practices like sanitizing and employees wearing masks.

“I think with what we have to offer, midnight is going to be a lot better for after dinner drinks,” Moseley said.

He adds Alchemy’s owner is opening a new restaurant on Broad Avenue later this month.

Moseley says the other new announcement from the health department that now there can be eight people to a table instead of six is also welcome.

“Baby steps towards getting back to normal. That’s the best way to go,” he said.

Ben Smith, chef and owner of Tsunami Restaurant in Cooper Young, points out that even though more people can sit at a table, there still has to be social distancing with tables which still means fewer tables.

“When we’re dealing with limited space in a restaurant, already adding a couple of seats here and there, sure it’s a step in the right direction, not enough to get back to where we want to be,” Smith said.

Tsunami already closes at 10 p.m., so that change doesn’t help. But, Smith says safety is still important.

“We’re finding a lot of our regular customers are still not ready to come in. The vast majority of diners still prefer outdoor dining.”

Restaurants and bars will be able to stay open until midnight beginning Wednesday. That is the same for 8 people at a table.

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