Shelby County Mayors Order Residents Stay Home; 'Non-Essential Businesses' to Close

Mar 23, 2020

The Mayors of Shelby County are now demanding residents stay at home and non-essential businesses must close. 

Officials say the strict measures could prevent a possible shortage of medical care as the number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County rises to nearly 100. 

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland led the flurry of orders at a noon press conference at City Hall. Grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants with pickup or delivery options will stay open. Salons, theaters, gyms and various "non-essential" retail will close up shop or risk a citation. 

"Beyond all of that, I think it will be enforced through the social pressure of all of us," Strickland said. "If we can get everyone on the same page -- to stay apart from each other -- then I think the businesses will comply."

At a later press conference, County Mayor Lee Harris ordered similar restrictions and closures for the entire county. He said that inconvenience is no excuse for further delay. 

"There's no doubt about it, the coronavirus is a major disruption to our way of life, and we can expect that it could be a pretty long lasting effect on our way of life," Harris said. 

The county mandate can be renewed every seven days. Harris says he hopes businesses and individuals will do their part rather than invite police enforcement.

"In the first instance, we'll politely ask people to be compliant," he said. "But we do have a stronger set of options should the need arise."

In a worst-case scenario, Harris says non-compliant county businesses would likely be shut down by the Sheriff's Department. 

The mayors of all six municipalities coordinated the timing of orders, as advised by health officials, to prevent hot spots for new infections. Harris is in discussions with neighboring countries, like DeSoto, to extend the reach of shutdowns.