Memphis mask ordinance in effect after mayor’s signature

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Facial coverings are now required in public places in Memphis after Mayor Jim Strickland signed a mask ordinance Thursday.

People are required to wear facial coverings in businesses, government offices, hospitals, public transit and some public spaces within the city limits during the current public health emergency. They’re even required while standing in line outside a business.

The ordinance passed city council last week with a vote of nine in favor and four against after more than an hour of debating.

“Being more cautious, just wear it now so even if you do have it and you don’t know, you can still — a less chance of anybody else getting it,” Kristan Williams said.

Facial coverings are not required for workers in private offices, diners after they have been seated in restaurants, children under 12 years old, drivers in private vehicles, people who have trouble breathing or people who are outdoors and practicing social distancing.

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said last week that part of the department’s role as far as the new Memphis mask ordinance will include marketing and education.

“We will partner with the city of Memphis in a variety of ways,” Haushalter said. “We do restaurant inspections, everyone is familiar with that. We will be monitoring mask usage in those restaurants.”

Enforcement is expected to be enforced by warnings for initial violations but no monetary fines or criminal penalties. Businesses may be fined $100.

The ordinance applies only within Memphis city limits.

Grecian Gourmet Grill on South Main has been requiring masks on its own since last week.

“It doesn’t have to be mask,” owner Jo Beth Graves said. “Somebody can wear a scarf around their face. It can be just a pull-up cloth that comes over their nose and mouth. It’s just about not having contact germs.”

Domes at the Beauty Shop in Cooper-Young separate customers on the patio. The domes were ordered for comfort reasons last year, but owner Lindsey Smith said they’ve been much more popular as social distancers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Beauty Shop in Cooper-Young, dining certainly isn’t doomed, it’s domed! No masks are needed when guests are seated in an igloos on the back patio.

“And they’re air-conditioned inside, too, so they’re very comfortable to sit in and eat in as well,” Lindsey Smith with the Beauty Shop said.

The igloos were actually ordered for comfort last year, but when the coronavirus hit, they proved the perfect social distancers.

“We’ve had people personally request to sit outside in the domes just, one, because they’re really cool to look at and also because you do have the ideal social distancing measures inside of them,” Smith said.

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