By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Monday marked the beginning of trying to reopen the economy in the Memphis/Shelby County area.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the surround municipal mayors have been working the past few weeks as part of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group.
Mayor Mike Wissman, City of Arlington, Mayor Keith McDonald, City of Bartlett, Mayor Stan Joyner, Town of Collierville, Mayor Mike Palazzolo, City of Germantown, Mayor Mike Cunningham, City of Lakeland and Millington Mayor Terry Jones have been reviewing the data on COVID-19/coronavirus to create a three phase plan to reopen businesses.
“We’ve been working together for weeks on this, and I appreciate the unified effort,” Jones said. “I believe this is the best way to move forward, in unity.”
Gov. Lee established the ERG, a joint effort between state departments, members of the legislature and leaders from the private sector to build guidance to safely reboot Tennessee’s economy. The group is led by Tennessee Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Mark Ezell.
This group is a public-private partnership that will prioritize connection, collaboration, and communication across industries, the medical community and state government. Sammie Arnold will serve as the chief of staff for the Economic Recovery Group. Arnold currently serves as the Assistant Commissioner of Rural Development at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Closer to home Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director Shelby County Health Department and Dr. Jon McCullers of UTHSC have been consulting with the mayors to reopen local businesses. Phase one of the Back-to-Business plan with the City of Memphis and Shelby County began May 4.
Phase one of reopening includes no purposeful groups of more than 10, still following social distancing, places of worship and civil facilities (such as libraries) can reopen a 25 percent capacity and much more.
Libraries will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity; employees must wear masks
No groups of 10 or more people
Social distancing required
Churches at 25 percent capacity
Elective surgeries and diagnostic, medical and procedural visits allowed
Nursing homes continue to have precautions in place
Elective dental visits/procedures allowed if medically necessary (fillings, extractions and root canal)
Restaurants and bars at 50 percent capacity; must maintain social distancing; employees wear masks; no communal items
Grocery stores at 50 percent capacity; require face masks and gloves for employees serving or preparing food
Hardware stores at 50 percent capacity
Retail stores and commercial business limited to 50 percent capacity; employees with customer interaction must wear masks
Manufacturers and distributor companies must require face masks for all employees; symptoms check for employees; employees must be social distanced
Offices must require face masks and symptom checks; employees must be social distanced
Non -contact sport facilities will be allowed to reopen, but you cannot share equipment; employees must wear masks
Basketball courts, baseball field and other contact sport facilities will remain closed
Gyms will be limited to 25 percent capacity; workouts limited to 45 minutes
Fully automated car washes allowed
Hair, nail salons and spas to remain closed
Theaters, sports arenas, auditoriums to remain closed
Bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, etc to remain closed
Festivals, public events are prohibited