SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - A new health directive is urging more personal responsibility from citizens to end this pandemic. With COVID-19 cases on a downward trend locally, restaurant capacities are increasing, but mask mandates are still in place.
Health Directive 17 bumps restaurant capacity from 25% to 50%. Restaurant owners said this new health directive is a step in the right direction. It also urges people to wear masks, socially distance and get vaccinated when it’s time.
“I think it’s an opportunity to get back to normal,” said Memphis Restaurant Association President Mike Miller.
We asked, “Does this mean restaurants are going to flip a switch and go from losing money to making a profit?
Miller says no.
Health Directive 17 will go into effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m. It is replacing the current directive in place which enacted a safer-at-home order.
Some restrictions are being loosened after Shelby County saw a downward trend in cases. On average we are seeing 500 cases a day. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, there were 237 and zero deaths.
“Because of the improvements in our cases locally we will be issuing a new health directive,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter.
Restaurants can have 50% capacity, but no parties over six people and must close at 10 p.m. Masks are still mandated while not eating or drinking and indoors anywhere else in public according to the mask mandate.
Live music is allowed again, but it can’t be so loud people can’t carry on a conversation in a normal tone.
“That’s another good step. I know our partners down on Beale St are ecstatic,” said Miller.
More people continue to get vaccinated in Shelby County -- now more than 33,000. The Shelby County Health Department said there has been more predictability in the amount of vaccine it will receive each week, and they expect that to continue under President Joe Biden.
For those waiting for their second doses, the health department said they have those doses to administer in as early as one week.