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

New Shelby County health directive reopens bars, similar establishments temporarily closed in July

Health leaders cite increased contact tracer staffing and names hospital capacity as reasons for changes.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — More than 40 limited service restaurants - also considered by many as bars - can reopen effective Wednesday in a new health directive outlined Tuesday by Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph.

With the directive, limited service restaurants - along with bars, clubs, beer pubs, wine bars, taproom, hookah, vaping and cigar lounges can also reopen but must adhere to statewide licensing guidelines and local restrictions in the directive.  

Adult entertainment venues that are only open to those 18 and over and offer close contact interactions will remain closed for the time being.

Festivals, fairs and parades are not allowed unless health department approves site specific plan.

Sporting venues - such as the Liberty Bowl - must also continue to practice 12 feet of social distancing.

At limited service restaurants, no standing room seating is allowed at the physical bar but tables can be placed and used in the bar area, alcohol can only be served to customers ordering food and sitting at a table and customers can't stay for more for more than two hours. 

Curbside/drive up service can continue but sale of alcohol must end at 10 and the establishments must still close at 10.

Hookah/vaping/cigar bars can reopen but with no more than two people at a booth from the same household and equipment must be cleaned after each use. 

Live music can occur but dancing allowed outside with social distancing and music must be at level where people don't have to yell.

"We have new data sets that allow us to more timely identify if there's an outbreak or transmission associated with a specific bar, so we can be laser focused," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said. "We probably haven't given enough accolades to this community, everyone has worked exceptionally hard. Everyone in Shelby County deserves a pat on the back for a job well done but also recognize that our job is not finished."

Alchemy owner Nick Scott said he hopes to have a soft reopening after being closed for two months.

"I think we'll be able to get right back at it, however, it is going to take us some time to, you know, re-rally our troops and get everyone back together," Scott said. It's a short notice for sure but we are definitely grateful to get back up and running. It's been definitely hard on the staff, we've had a few people that have moved on, we've had a few people that are still hanging on."

You can view the health directive at www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives