If you plan on eating at a restaurant or a barbecue joint in Memphis or Shelby County, Tennessee you must wear a face mask in between bites of food.
“When actually eating a bite of food or drinking a beverage at a restaurant, bar, or other establishment where food or beverages are served and consumed, however, patrons must wear face coverings when they are sitting, waiting for their food/drink, talking, or moving about the establishment (e.g., to go to their table, to go to the restroom, or to leave the establishment),” the Shelby County Ministry of Health declared Friday.
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Restaurants that serve food and/or alcoholic beverages are required to:
- Limit occupancy to 50%
- Close at 10 p.m.
- Require patrons to wear masks at all times except when actually eating a bite of food or drinking a beverage
- Limit groups dining together to 6 people (but no more than 4 adults)
There was widespread outrage across the city over the health department’s radicalized rules and regulations, according to conservative radio station KWAM.
“These people are acting like health Nazis,” said one angry KWAM listener. “How can unelected bureaucrats get to implement rules and regulations. They have no right to tell me how to operate my business.”
Along the restrictions above, eateries must keep groups dining together capped at six people, with no more than four adults. Gyms can remain open for now, but they will also be required to enforce masking, unless a customer is in a shower or pool.
The new directive also prohibits smoking indoors in any establishment, including hookah, vaping, cigar bars and lounges. Previously, people were allowed to smoke at those establishments if spaced well apart and wearing masks while not smoking.
“My first reaction is, of course, disappointment for my staff and you know everybody,” Jock Marx, the regional manager of Tin Roof on Beale Street, told LocalMemphis.com.
Marx said the newest health directive announced Friday will hurt his restaurant’s income.
“It also takes out that late night element, ” he said. “Going out after you go somewhere or go get dinner or something. It will cut into the sales significantly, and it’ll hurt the staff and their pockets.”