MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Health Department inspectors visited a large party held in the parking lot of a Hickory Hill club this weekend at least twice, and noticed a lack of social distancing and mask wearing, but the party continued.
Now officials say an investigation is underway.
This comes after dozens of videos and pictures surfaced online showing what appears to be hundreds of people packed in these tents in the parking lot of the club In Love Memphis. Few attendees seen in the images appear to be wearing masks.
Curtis Givens, the organizer of the event called the All Black Affair, said on social media the party was specifically held in the tent, or bubble as he called it, because “of everything going on large venues aren’t able to rent.”
Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Department Health Officer, announced Tuesday that not only are they looking into the actions at the party that night, but there’s an internal investigation too. Health department inspectors say they visited the party at least twice.
“Please do not interpret our lack of immediate response to your particular timetable as an indication that we’re not intending to do something,” Randolph said.
The first time inspectors visited was at 3:46 Saturday afternoon, before the event started.
“They returned at 8 o’clock and according to the report — these are some of the investigations we’re still doing to get further clarity — is that they inspected and noted that there were some without masks, social distancing was not being adhered to,” Randolph said.
Randolph says because the party was in a tent, there was confusion.
Health officials also said they have been working with the club since September, when they initially had to close it for violating health directives. But Givens went through the process of getting a full service restaurant permit so he could continue to operate.
“This was different than their day to day operations,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, the Shelby County Health Department Director. “It was a special event that ideally would’ve been submitted to the health department electronically for review and technical assistance and it was not.”
The health department director said a tent is also treated as an enclosed space.
We’ve reached out to Givens for comment. He told us he’s working on getting a statement but so far we have not heard from him.