Elvis Presley's Graceland reopening with smaller tours

Elvis Presley's Graceland reopening with smaller tours
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Graceland, the iconic onetime home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tenn., will partially reopen to tourists Thursday after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tourist attraction, which draws more than 600,000 visitors a year, will reopen to visitors at 25 percent capacity, with face masks required for employees and encouraged for visitors. The attraction’s restaurant will be open at 50 percent capacity with outdoor patio seating available.

The popular attraction will also take other precautions including hand sanitization stations, six-foot social distancing markers throughout the building, temperature checks for guests and workers and touchless payment options.

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“We are helping Memphis and Tennessee to get back to some sense of normality,” Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Graceland Holdings, said in a statement. “We’re doing this in a safe manner and in the best interest for our community, our employees and our guests. Together, we will succeed.”

Graceland is also recommending guests reserve tour tickets in advance of their visits due to reduced tour capacities.

Tennessee has seen 17,388 cases of the virus and just over 300 deaths as of Monday morning. In addition to allowing noncontact attractions like Graceland to reopen, the state will remove capacity restrictions on retailers and restaurants beginning Friday.  

Weinshanker told a local Fox affiliate that much of Graceland’s income derives from international tourism, which will remain absent even after reopening.

“You are not going to have the international people coming in. We are definitely going to have a lower attendance than normal. That just means that these people are going to have a more organic, better time interacting with Graceland,” he said.

"Up to 10 people are going to be allowed to go in as a group,” he added. “If you come with your family, you can be right next to them. But if you are coming with 10 people who are not, we are going to space those people out within the group."