MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Labor Day weekend is in full swing across the Mid-South from concerts to festivals. While COVID-19 forced the postponement of some events, others are going on as scheduled.
As many try to make the most of their Labor Day weekend, a battle is underway to keep mask requirements in school, all while coronavirus cases continue to rise across the region.
Lurking among the fray of people on Beale Street is the threat of the coronavirus, which is a concern for tourists like Angela Dowdy.
“I definitely worry about it. I still keep my distance from people,” she said. “It’s more of distance thing than it is a mask thing. I like to make sure that we stay more distant than I would normally.”
Shelby County is averaging 665 coronavirus cases over the last week. Despite the statistics, organizers of the Beale Street Cigar Festival decided to move forward with their event.
“My heart goes out to all that have suffered economically and physically and health wise from the pandemic, but in the same breath, we want people to know that there is still life, and to come out and have a good time,” said Robb Hunter, organizer of the festival. “We just want to be safe and smart about it.”
Following the holiday, students will no longer be able to opt out of wearing masks in schools in Shelby County, after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, which blocks Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order.
“This is happening all over the county. Parents of children like this all over the country are bringing lawsuits like this and to be able to be part of the very first to achieve some tangible results is a really great feeling,” said Brice Timmons, and attorney at Donati Law.
In spite of this victory, Timmons says he’ll keep fighting until the governor’s order is completely overturned.
“We’re talking about every kid in Shelby County who’s diabetic, every kid who has sickle cell disease, every kid who has asthma. This order is to protect those kids and let them fully participate in school,” he said.
The temporary restraining order will remain through Sept. 17 but another hearing is scheduled for this Thursday to discuss the matter.