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Latest Shelby County health directive eases restrictions at bars, restaurants and sporting venues

Health experts cite continued progress in local COVID-19 containment for relaxing some rules.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We are still trending downward and doing that very slowly and incrementally," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said

Because of that slow and steady progress, Dr. Haushalter Tuesday unveiled looser restrictions in the latest health directive, which takes effect Wednesday.

In it, bars and restaurants can stay open until midnight instead of 10 p.m., the allowed table capacity goes from six to eight people and social distancing at sporting events drops from 12 to six feet.

That means around 12,000 fans - instead of the current 4500 person cap - will be allowed in the Liberty Bowl for upcoming football games.

"We will do some monitoring ourselves but for any of the event spaces we have an expectation that they do monitoring themselves," Dr. Haushalter said.

Dr. Haushalter said the relaxed rules are possible because of additional COVID-19 testing supply, enough available hospital space and more health department employees to tackle contact tracing investigations quicker.

"Over time, we have improved our data collection methods at the local level so we can more effectively and in a timely manner, identify particular sites where there may be clustering," Dr. Haushalter said.

In the new health directive, festivals and parades will still only be allowed on a case by case basis, with specific plans approved by the health department.


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