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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Mask requirements limited & more restrictions lifted under new Shelby County Health Directive

Find the latest information from the Shelby County Health Department below.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE 5/14/2021 - The Shelby County Health Department issues a revised Health Directive No. 21 today to go into effect at midnight on May 15th. This revised Health Directive No. 21:

  1. Changes the eligibility age to 12 and older for Pfizer vaccine;
  2. Clarifies mask usage to conform to CDC guidance issued on May 13, 2021.

“These revisions to Health Directive No. 21 were necessary to align the Health Department’s guidance with the latest guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Interim Health Director Dr. La Sonya Hall. “Shelby County Health Department will continue to align our health recommendations with guidance from both national and local public health and medical experts.”

The text of Health Directive No. 21 is available here: www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives.

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5/12/2021 - The Shelby County Health Department issues Health Directive No. 21 today to go into effect at midnight on May 15th. Health Directive No. 21 is designed to be a long-range directive that balances recommended safety measures for individuals and businesses with greatly reduced mandatory restrictions.

The last Health Directive stated, “If the County does not enter into a third surge over the next 30 days, the next health directive will provide highly recommended guidance on continuing safe practices for people and businesses that will slow and end the transmission of COVID-19, which continues to be a direct and deadly threat to people in Shelby County. The more steps you and your family take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the safer you and others will be. Again, please note that if case numbers and other indicators remain stable over the next 30 days, the next health directive, which will be issued in May 2021, will shift from a mandatory approach to a recommendation approach.”

The changes reflected in Health Directive 21 can be made at this time because case rates of the virus have remained stable over the last 30 days. In mid-April, when Health Directive 20 was issued, there was an average rate of approximately 165 new cases per day. Now that average is approximately 135 cases per day.

Key changes in Health Directive No. 21:

  • Replaces Face Mask Directive No. 5 upon Health Directive 21’s effective date (May 15, 2021), resulting in one consolidated document for COVID-related information;
  • Provides guidance on when masks must not be worn, when they must be worn, and when they are highly recommended;
  • Requires masks for certain employees who work in environments where there is an increased risk of exposure;
  • Requires businesses, school authorities, and public authorities that require masks to post proper notice signs are posted at frequently used entrances;
  • Greatly reduces the number of mandatory restrictions in favor of highly recommended guidance;
  • Allows event planners for large-scale festivals, fairs, parades, sporting events, and community events to seek the Department’s technical assistance for their event plan(s);
  • Allows schools to seek the Department’s technical assistance for their physical locations.

“Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to the majority of Shelby County’s population, the Health Department’s role is continued monitoring of COVID-19 cases, contact tracing, and providing recommendations, including that all eligible persons be vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. “Although we are moving from requirements to recommendations, a few mandatory requirements will remain in effect, such as cooperating with the Health Department on case investigations and contact tracing.”

“We are pleased to be able to make these modifications to the Health Directive. We will continue to monitor viral activity and align our health recommendations with guidance from local public health and medical experts,” said Interim Health Director La Sonya Hall. “And we are glad to be able to safely lift some restrictions and return to more normal activities.”

The text of Health Directive No. 21 is available here: www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives

5/13/2021 - The Mayors of Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Millington, and Shelby County have provided comment on Directive No. 21. Health Directive No. 21 was issued yesterday by the Shelby County Health Department, with an effective date of May 15, 2021.

Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman: “With the numbers lessoning and the vaccine readily available, it's refreshing to know that both businesses and citizens will be able to choose what is best for them. Personal accountability is key, and I'm thankful we are at this juncture.”

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald: “After more than a year of mandates, I think everyone is looking for some relief and fewer restrictions. I think this new directive is a big step in the right direction.”

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner: "Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, we have asked our residents and businesses to make significant sacrifices. I'd like to thank everyone in Collierville, and all of Shelby County, for doing their part to protect each other. We are pleased with Shelby County’s decision to lift restrictions and mandates to replace them with recommendations in agreement with the remainder of the State of Tennessee.”

Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo: "The ‘Germantown Fighting Together’ campaign has been very meaningful in building public health safety awareness in our community. Germantown residents, business owners and visitors have worked together to understand the appropriate balance between safety and easing restrictions as the spread of COVID-19 has begun to taper off in the region due to the practice of good health fundamentals. As we move toward less restrictions, it is still critically important that we encourage all of our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated so that we may get back to a normal everyday life that we can all enjoy together."

Millington Mayor Terry Jones: “The City of Millington is looking forward to the lifting of any restrictions on our businesses. We anticipate it will benefit not only our businesses but our citizens who want life to return to normal.”

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris: “We are pleased that our numbers have been relatively stable for several weeks and, more importantly, the vaccine is available to almost every resident. As we enter this next phase, the most important thing each of us can do is to get vaccinated and encourage our loved ones to do the same.”

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4/13/2021 - The Shelby County Health Department issues Health Directive No. 20 today to go into effect at midnight on April 17th. Health Directive No. 20 further lifts restrictions on businesses, particularly restaurants and encourages vaccination for all eligible residents.

Key changes in Health Directive No. 20:

  • Emphasizes the eligibility of everyone 16 and over for the Pfizer vaccine and 18 and older for the Moderna vaccine;
  • Requires landlords to provide increased notice information to tenants about the availability of resources;
  • Opens buffets (but requires extra sanitary measures);
  • Permits dancing indoors if dancers maintain 6-feet separation from those who are not of the same family unit or close contact group; and
  • States explicitly that event planners only need to submit a plan through the portal if the even involves more than 500 people.

While the COVID-19 virus remains a threat, these revisions are deemed allowable now as transmission is low.

“We are pleased to be able to make these modifications to the Health Directive. We will carefully monitor viral activity over the next 30 days to determine if more preventive measures can be lifted,” said Interim Health Director La Sonya Hall. “If community transmission remains low, we will welcome the opportunity to lift even more restrictions and return to more normal activities.”

The text of Health Directive No. 20 is attached and available here: www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives.

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3/17/2021 - The Shelby County Health Department issued Health Directive No. 19 today to go into effect at midnight on March 20th. Health Directive No. 19 further lifts restrictions on businesses, particularly restaurants that serve the public. It is accompanied by Face Mask Directive No. 5, which clarifies and updates guidance about mask usage in certain public settings.

Key changes in Health Directive No. 19:

  • Increase in number of people at tables to 8 instead of 6.
  • Persons seated together must be of the same family unit or close contact group.
  • Bartenders are encouraged to wear a face shield or double mask while serving multiple groups at the bar, but are not required to do so.
  • Operating hours for dine-in service ends at 1 am (customers may stay until 1:30 to complete meal/payment arrangements).
  • Two hour limit for food service is removed.
  • Any location that serves beer or alcohol must serve food as required by state law (and have a permit to do so).
  • Removes the requirement of maintaining contact tracing records.

Key changes in Face Mask Directive No. 5:

  • Face masks are required pursuant to this directive but “medical or procedure grade masks are recommended but not required; coverings which are made of suitable layered fabrics are acceptable but scarves, ski masks, and balaclavas are not substitutes for masks.”
  • Persons who cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering are not required to wear a face shield, and no person declining to wear a face covering because of a medical condition is required to produce verifying medical documentation.

While the COVID-19 virus remains a threat, these revisions are deemed allowable now because our community has experienced reduced transmission of the virus for a period of greater than 14 days.

  • Viral reproductive rate in Shelby County is currently estimated at 0.84 and has remained less than 1.0 since early January.
  • Case numbers have continued to decline since early January.
  • Weekly COVID-19 test positivity rates are the lowest since October.

For more information about Shelby County's response to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 informational page: www.shelby.community.

Read the full information on the directives HERE.

Early Treatment for COVID-19 An effective early treatment is available for persons who test positive and have the following risk factors: Anyone over age 12 with obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or whose immunity is compromised by disease or prescription treatments.