Masks or no masks? Memphis business owners adjust to new CDC recommendations


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — To mask or not to mask? That’s the question many Memphis business owners are trying to answer this weekend when it comes to their customers.

Thursday, the CDC said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors. Now Memphis business owners are scrambling to review their requirements and health department recommendations.

Christopher Rhodes owns Christyles Celebrity Salon by Penny Hardaway on South Main Street.

“When I open back up, I’m going to still require mask entrance, but for the employees and my employees who’ve been vaccinated, it won’t be required for us to wear masks,” Rhodes said.

Jeffrey Zepatos owns and manages the Arcade Restaurant on South Main.

“Honestly, we’re not ready to let our guard down here yet. We’re going to still have our employees wearing their masks for sure. I don’t see us cutting that out until at least 2022,” Zepatos said. “Overall, we’ll let our customers make their decisions. During BBQ Fest we’d like to see people continue wearing their masks.”

At Tom Lee Park, hundreds are gathering for the Memphis in May World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest. Memphis in May tells WREG its current plan for mask requirements is still in place, and they’re still following the same recommendations and the agreement they made with the health department.

Memphian Jermaine Jones says he doesn’t have an issue with wearing a mask.

“Me, personally, I will still put on a mask just for extra safety because you don’t know who’s been vaccinated versus who hasn’t,” Jones said.

The Bluff City Fair is open again, offering rides, food, games, attractions and a COVID plan.

“We’ve put together a very comprehensive COVID plan to keep everybody safe,” said Bluff City Fair Director Mark Lovell. “First of all, we have hand sanitizers throughout the fair and we’ll have signs up everywhere encourage people to wear masks.”

Lovell says fairgoers are being encouraged to wear a mask but not forced to do so.

“We want everyone to come out, bring a mask. We have 30,000 or 35,000 masks,” Lovell said. “So, if you come and forget to bring yours, we’ll provide everyone with one.”

The CDC says people who have weak immune systems, such as cancer survivors, should talk with their doctors before shedding their masks.

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