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New Shelby County health directive limits masking requirements, lifts more business restrictions

Shelby County Health Department gets initial approval for $10M expansion
Shelby County Health Department gets initial approval for $10M expansion(source: WMC Action News 5)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 3:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department released a new health directive Wednesday that establishes limited masking requirements and lifts many restrictions on businesses.

Health Directive No. 21 “is designed to be a long-range directive that balances recommended safety measure for individuals and businesses with greatly reduced mandatory restrictions,” according to the health department.

The health department cited the last health directive that said if Shelby County avoided another surge, protocols would shift from mandatory to recommended.

Health Directive No. 21 goes into effect May 15 and makes changes to the mandatory mask policy. It allows people to forego masks if they have a disability or can’t safely wear a mask, if they’re younger than 2 years old or if a mask creates a risk to workplace safety or health.

Masks are still required in these situations:

  • Mass transit (airplanes, trains, buses, ride-shares, etc.).
  • Working or visiting an establishment (business, restaurant, school, etc.) that requires masks and has signs posted that masks are required.
  • Entering property on which a local, state or federal authority has propriety interest and the authority requires masks.
  • Working at an indoor business with regular close contact to people exposed to COVID-19; people who are not vaccinated or may be infected (distribution centers and hubs); or with members of the public not wearing masks and possibly not vaccinated (retail, goods, service workers).

Masks are highly recommended in these circumstances:

  • If you are not vaccinated and in a public setting around people who don’t live in your household, especially when indoors and six-feet of social distancing isn’t possible.
  • If you are not vaccinated and you are around people who don’t live with you, regardless of whether you are in your home or someone else’s.
  • If you are not vaccinated and you are inside your home with someone sick with COVID-19 symptoms or illness.
  • If you are not vaccinated and engage in outdoor activities but physical distancing of six feet or more from persons not in your household is not feasible, regardless of crowd size.

Other changes include:

  • 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.”

Read the full text of the health directive below.

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