Tennessee’s largest county implements safer-at-home order

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Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and health officials issued a public health order Monday enacting another safer-at-home order, effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday through 11:59 p.m. Jan. 22.

Health Directive 16 strongly urges Shelby County residents to remain at home, leaving only for essential services and avoiding any indoor public space.

“Tennessee is on fire. If the state does not act with an effort to combat the current surge, we will have to do something at the local level,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said. “If we do not, the numbers we have seen recently foreshadow a very difficult January. The numbers we have seen recently mean lives could be at stake.”

The order comes one day after Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order limiting public gatherings to 10 or fewer people through Jan. 19.

Shelby County's order did not require approval from the Shelby County Commission, and several commissioners spoke out on behalf of small businesses.

“Small businesses and restaurants need a seat at the table and equal treatment from the Shelby County Health Department,” Commissioner Amber Mills said in a statement. “The decisions made by our Health Department directly impact thousands of local families and the small business owners. Everyone agrees we should do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but we MUST temper the rules with the ability to provide financially for our families.”

Businesses not listed as essential in the order are required to close their physical locations to the public. Businesses that are required to close may continue to offer curbside, drive-thru and delivery services.

The order requires retail stores, grocery stores, gyms and fitness centers to operate at no more than 50% capacity. Barber shops, hair and nail salons and massage parlors may operate by appointment only.

Indoor dining is “strongly discouraged,” and restaurants who choose to continue service are limited to operate at 25% capacity. Food and alcohol service are required to cease at 10 p.m. Table service is limited to six or fewer guests, and all six guests must be from the same household. Businesses are required to enforce mask requirements.

Places of worship, weddings and funerals allowed under the governor's executive orders are not affected by the order.

Nonessential employees strongly are encouraged to work remotely when feasible.

Masks already are required throughout Shelby County. An additional health order, Face Mask Directive No. 4, clarifies that masks are required in gyms and fitness facilities. If a mask cannot be worn because of a medical condition, a face shield is required.

“Without the necessary statewide interventions, we have to turn to the tools we have at the local level,” Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said. “Unless we take reasonable action to reduce social gathering, we expect that January could have the highest numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Tennessee has the second-highest average of daily cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state surpassed more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths over the weekend and reported 65 new COVID-19 related deaths Monday, along with 9,891 new confirmed cases.





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