FACT CHECK: Did The Memphis Mayor Ban Alcohol And Tobacco Sales Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Matt Noel | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 185 times purportedly shows an article about the Memphis, Tennessee, mayor banning alcohol and tobacco sales starting March 31.

Verdict: False

The article was created on a prank news website. No ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco has been instituted in Memphis.

Fact Check:

Alleged news articles about bans on the sale of alcohol and other products have been circulating amid state and local governments issuing orders to close nonessential businesses in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

This particular post claims Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland banned the sale of alcohol and tobacco starting on March 31 “due to Memphis TN residents not following covid 19 (sic) orders.” However, the article, which masquerades as a legitimate news story, actually comes from Channel22news.com, a website that allows users to create their own articles for pranks.

The Daily Caller didn’t find any mention of Strickland banning the sale of alcohol or tobacco on the city’s official website. Dan Springer, the media affairs deputy director for Strickland’s office, confirmed in an email to the Caller that the claim “is not true.”

In fact, Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order in late March loosening alcohol regulations to allow qualifying Tennessee restaurants and bars to sell alcohol in closed containers through take-out and delivery. Restaurants and bars are considered essential businesses and can only “offer drive-through, pickup, carry-out, or delivery service,” according to the executive order.

Some establishments that sell tobacco products, such as gas stations and food and drug stores, are also listed as essential businesses. (RELATED: Will Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Ban The Sale Of Alcohol Starting In April?)

As of April 8, there are nearly 900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County, where Memphis is located, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. The Tennessee Department of Health has reported some 4,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and some 79 deaths across the state at press time.

Matt Noel

Fact Check Reporter
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