MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department has announced a brand new health directive loosening restrictions on restaurants and sporting events.
With COVID-19 case numbers and infection rates continuing to drop, the Shelby County Health Department is allowing restaurants to stay open later and allowing more fans inside the Liberty Bowl.
But the health department says with loosening regulations comes tight enforcement.
Shelby County Health Directive 13 will allow restaurants and bars to stay open until midnight. Before, they were required to close at 10 p.m.
The directive also increases the number of people who can sit at a table from 6 to 8.
Social distancing between groups and masks are still required.
“We can move forward at an incremental basis as long as we’re monitoring and we’re ready to pivot back to a faster pace if we begin to see more cases,” Alisa Haushalter, Director of the Shelby County Health Department, said.
The new health directive also lowers the social distance requirement at sporting events, including indoor events, changing the distance between groups of fans from the previous 12 feet down to 6 feet.
This comes after no noticeable increase in COVID-19 transmission reported from fans attending recent games. But Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says it’s critical fans continue to wear masks at all times while at games.
“There was a football game over the weekend where fans had to leave because they were not masking,” Haushalter said. “So we actually have to rely heavily on leaders, management, and the organizers to do enforcement within those particular venues.”
The health department stressed there will be strict enforcement with regulations being relaxed.
Along with responding to complaints, several enforcement teams do proactive checks of businesses on weekends and restaurant inspectors are keeping an eye out for compliance during their routine health inspections.
“Those who elect to be non-compliant to the health directive we will close those facilities and they will remain closed for approximately a two week period or until such time that they have a place approved by the health department,” Haushalter said.
The new health directive goes into effect Tuesday night at midnight.
The University of Memphis says they will now be able to seat 12,000 fans inside the Liberty Bowl, giving every season ticket holder who donated their season ticket purchase this year the opportunity to have a seat at every home game.
Tailgating is still not allowed at Tiger Lane.