Medical experts advise caution as restaurants begin reopening dining rooms


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As more people venture outside and Memphis restaurants get ready to push into Phase 3 of the back-to-business plan, medical experts encourage people to stay safe while restaurant owners try to stay afloat.

“The rest of the state is opening up,” President of the Memphis Restaurant Association Ernie Mellor said.

Mellor knows local restaurants are still struggling.

”I’ll be honest with you … we’re truly on life support,” he said.

MORE: Shelby County prepares to move to Phase 3 of reopening plan Monday

He knows dozens of restaurants won’t make it unless business picks up.

“We’re still safe,” Mellor said. “We’re following protocols. We need the guests, the public to come out and eat with us.”

Oddly, on the other hand, a couple of places are booming.

“We’re opening up to try to keep our businesses from dying, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to open up,” said Memphis City Council member Dr. Jeff Warren, who’s on the local COVID-19 joint task force. “You still have to do all the right things. You have to cover your face, wash your hands frequently. We have to keep that six-foot social distancing away from people, not in our family groups.”

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He believes the consequences of not following the rules could be dire.

“We will spike, and if we spike badly enough, then we have another shutdown,” Dr. Warren said. “I can tell you, small businesses can’t take multiple shutdowns. It’s the worst thing we can do.”

“We really are asking that our guests and our customers help us with the social distancing,” Mellor said. “Trying to keep the head above water, trying to keep the protocols in place, doing the right things, and, you know, just letting folks know that we’re open and safe for business. Come out and see us.”

If you’re heading out to eat this weekend, Dr. Warren recommended taking your mask and trying to eat outside. He said people who eat inside are 19-times more likely to be infected than those eating outside.

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