Press Releases

The latest details on Reopening Greater Memphis

Wednesday, 22 April, 2020
What you need to know about Reopening the greater memphis region

The Chamber is working to keep the business community updated on the latest information related to how Tennessee and the Greater Memphis region begin to reopen their economies. This information is updated in real time daily.

The Latest Updates


Memphis and Shelby County announced that Phase 1 of the Back to Business Memphis and Shelby County framework will begin on May 4. The phased plan provides guidance for getting the Greater Memphis economy restarted. 


Back to Business Protocols by Industry

Reopening Protocols for Memphis and Shelby County 

Mayor Strickland’s office announced the following criteria will be used to determine how and when Safer at Home orders will be lifted for the City of Memphis. 

1. Case Numbers: The numbers of new cases are stable or declining for a period of time.

2. Healthcare System Capacity: Hospitalizations are stable or declining for period of time and area hospitals have capacity to treat all patients.

3. Public Healthcare System Capacity: Contact tracing capabilities, monitoring and enforcement abilities are sufficient to contain the virus.

4. Testing Capacity. Average daily test capacity outside of hospitals, lab capacity and test results turnaround time are sufficient. 

To see the current status of Memphis and Shelby County to reach Phase 1 of Reopening, click here. (NOTE: The Local Status section is midway through the linked page)



  • Beginning Friday, April 24 at 6 am, large retailers of grocery and hardware items must limit the number of patrons who can be inside the store at one time to allow for 6-feet of space between patrons. Patrons must maintain a six foot distance from one another while inside stores. Waiting lines should be established inside and outside of stores with six foot markers in place to allow social distancing. Hand sanitizer should be available at all store entrances. Store employees should be required to wear facial masks or coverings when in areas of the store accessible to the public.

  • Members of the public are strongly encouraged to wear face masks or facial covering when entering a place of business or interacting with others in public.

  • Golf courses can reopen starting this weekend with new protocols in place to encourage social distancing recommended by the Shelby County Health Department. Those guidelines include making a tee time in advance, one-in-one-out use of clubhouses, walking only (no golf carts, but personal use push carts are allowed at public courses) and credit card payment only at public courses. Patrons at public courses will be allowed on property 15 minutes before their pre-scheduled tee time. Tee times will be set in 20 minute increments.

    • The following public golf courses will open this weekend: Links at Galloway, Links at Audubon, Links at Fox Meadows and Links at Pine Hill. The Links at Whitehaven is already reopened with social distancing measures in place.

  • Fully automated car washes may reopen, but vacuums and other ancillary amenities cannot be used by the public at those facilities.


  • April 24, 10:00 am – Gov. Bill Lee has announced the Tennessee Pledge, a series of recommendations and guidelines for industries across Tennessee for responsibly reopening. Read the guidelines >>
  • Gov. Bill Lee has announced that the statewide Safer at Home Order will expire on April 30. At that time 89 counties in the state will begin phased reopening. Shelby County and other major metropolitan areas in the state will continue under local Safer at Home orders. Reopening efforts in those counties will be coordinated by local government in accordance with guidelines set by the state. 

  • Tennesseans must maintain habits like social distancing, working from home when possible, handwashing, and utilizing cloth masks. Certain restrictions will remain in place to ensure safe reopening including limiting social gatherings of 10 or more and restricting visitors at nursing homes and hospitals until further notice.


  • Memphis and Nashville are expected to receive more than $2.3 billion in additional federal funding thru the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Gov. Lee has established a Stimulus Financial Accountability Group to oversee these funds. Additional information on that group can be found here, and additional information on the CARES ACT can be found here.

  • Free drive-thru COVID-19 screening is available to all Shelby County residents, regardless of whether an individual is showing symptoms,  on weekends at the following location. No appointment is needed.

    Christ Community Health Center
    969 Frayser Blvd., Memphis
    12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

    Read more>>

  • Tennessee schools will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Most Tennessee state parks will reopen on Friday, April 24, with guidelines in place to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Have a question about reopening your business or resources available? Let us know.


Find more information on our COVID-19 Business Resources Page.



Gov. Lee Announces Safer at Home Order Will Expire April 30, Tennessee Begins Phased Reopening Next Week

April 20, 2020, 2:45pm – As the voice of business for the Greater Memphis region for more than 180 years, the Chamber and its members are anxious to get the regional economy moving. We applaud Gov. Bill Lee, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris for their focus on providing our metro area with balanced guidance for incremental reopening of the state and local economy in a measured approach. We support efforts to incrementally restart economic activity gradually with careful guardrails to prevent new spikes in infection rates.

On April 20, Governor Bill Lee announced that the Safer at Home Order for Tennessee will expire on April 30 and that the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties across the state will be allowed to re-open on May 1. Shelby County as well as Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties will execute their own reopening strategies at the direction of their local health departments.

 “While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” said Lee. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), composed of 30 leaders from the public and private sector is crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. The industry representatives participating in the ERG collectively represent over 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ over 2.5M Tennesseans and include Greater Memphis Chamber President & CEO Beverly Robertson.

Read more about Gov. Lee’s Economic Recovery Group.

In addition, mayors and leaders from each of Tennessee’s four largest metropolitan areas are working together to create plans for safely reopening our cities.

Read more about the Big Four Task Force.

A message from Chamber President & CEO Beverly Robertson

April 17, 2019 – On April 16, the White House released guidance for states to begin to reopen their economies. The Chamber team anticipates more specific guidance soon that will follow a similarly phased approach to gradual reopening of the economy. I have been asked to represent the interests of the Memphis business community on both Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group and a task force convened by mayors of Tennessee’s four largest metro areas to help establish guidance on vital business reopening issues.  

I want to share what I am hearing in my discussions with leaders across the state and locally. It is clear that this reopening will not be like turning on the light switch. Safer at Home orders will be lifted carefully. We will move out of collectively social distancing in a controlled and careful series of steps that may happen over an extended period of time depending on how well our region is able to continue to contain the disease and prevent more sustained economic damage.  

We are by no means out of the woods. 

To that end, we should be prepared for the possibility that communities will occasionally need to return to mitigation efforts for short periods of time to maintain effective containment. While our economy may begin to slowly reopen soon, we expect that our workplaces will experience a “new normal” for a significant period of time including continued encouragement for employees who are able to work remotely when possible and for social distancing efforts to be used in the workplace. We also anticipate employees may be required to wear facial coverings in the office and common spaces will be off limits in the immediate phases of reopening.

We want to make this transition as smooth and successful as possible for our local businesses. We will continue to provide updates on the status of reopening plans and best practices for businesses in the coming days and weeks. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.


Beverly Robertson