Business owners fear layoffs with latest health directive in effect

Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Monday is the first night of strict new rules meant to stop the spread of Coronavirus in Shelby County.

However, some business owners say the new health directive is affecting their bottom line and could mean bad news for their staff.

“Right before the holidays. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s tough. People trying to put food on the table for their families,” said Kooky Canuck owner Shawn Danko.

He says he doesn’t know how many but says more lay-offs are likely coming at his two restaurants.

“With reduced hours, reduced number of tables, it’s going to be challenging keeping the same amount of staff that we currently have,” said Danko.

He says his downtown location has lost over 50% profit since the start of the pandemic and under the new health directives he’ll likely have to let more staff go.

Danko was joined by about two dozen other small business owners and citizens Monday at the Shelby County Commission meeting.

They are upset over the new health directive that includes cutting capacity to 50%, no more than six people to a table and closing by 10 p.m.

However, health officials say they have no choice. Cases are rising.

Shelby County reported more than 400 new COVID-19 cases Monday.

“We understand the economic impact. What we attempted to do was implement the least restrictive measures possible,” said Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter.

Monday all of the municipal mayors put out a joint statement in support of the new health directive saying in part:

“We, as the elected leaders of the communities within Shelby Countyurge all the citizens of Shelby County to comply with these restrictions so that no further restrictive measures and closures become necessary.”

“That can’t happen. We can not survive another shutdown. This industry can not survive another shutdown,” said Lakeland Gym owner Nancy Rose.

Rose spoke before the commission Monday objecting to the new health directive. She is concerned about the possibility of the same business restrictions the county had back in March making a return.

Under the new health directive gyms must have patrons keep masks on at all times.

It’s a delicate balance of trying to slow the spread of the virus and keep the doors open at businesses.

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