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New Shelby County health directive shuts down most bars indefinitely, cuts operating hours at restaurants

Move comes in response to local surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We know that we are at a pivotal point," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.

With the total number of COVID-19 cases up 96% the past four weeks and local COVID-19 hospitalizations at a record high Tuesday, Dr. Haushalter Tuesday announced new restrictions at area bars and restaurants.

"Our numbers have trended upwards since Memorial Day and that has continued," Dr. Haushalter said

Effective midnight Wednesday, bars which Dr. Haushalter said primarily serve adults must close indefinitely. Starting Thursday, restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Other possible restrictions are on the table.

"We next will look at capacities of restaurants, and likely look at whether or not gyms can continue to stay open or not or if they have to reduce capacity," Dr. Haushalter said.

Dr. Haushalter said the health department will also hone in on other COVID-19 priorities, which include the enforcement of a countywide mask ordinance for those twelve or older, with some exceptions, and a focus on case clusters such as nursing homes and weekly testing of corrections workers.

"We can either continue to try and flatten the curve or we can continue to trend upward," Dr. Haushalter said.

Shelby County health experts will meet with state groups Wednesday to iron out how to expand COVID-19 testing locations, especially in ZIP codes with the highest percentage of cases.

As more and more people are going back to work, we received one particular question over and over "I tested positive for COVID-19. When is it ok for me to be around others and go back to work?". You're in luck. The CDC has specific guidance on this situation.

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