Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Health Department: Restaurants Allowed 50 Percent Capacity

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 1:09 PM

click to enlarge Dr. Judy Martin talks about vaccines in Shelby County during Tuesday's briefing of the Memphis and Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force. - SHELBY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT/FACEBOOK
  • Shelby County Health Department/Facebook
  • Dr. Judy Martin talks about vaccines in Shelby County during Tuesday's briefing of the Memphis and Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force.

A new health directive expected this week will loosen restrictions on restaurants as the county’s Safer At Home order expires.

The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) asked citizens to “remain home as much as possible” in an order that began on December 26th and will expire on Friday. A new health directive issued at the same time reduced capacity at retail stores to 50 percent, gyms to 50 percent, and restaurants to 25 percent.

On Tuesday, Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph previewed a new order set to take place Saturday, January 23rd. It will allow stores and gyms to remain at 50 percent. But it will allow restaurants to open capacity to 50 percent, or to whatever amount it can and still keep dining tables at least six feet apart. Diners, however, must still wear face masks inside restaurants except when seated and in the process of eating and drinking. Curbside service is still permitted, he said, but restaurants must still close at 10 p.m.

Randolph said live entertainment, like concerts, will be allowed but the performers must be 18 feet from the audience. Band members must be six feet apart from one another and separated by a barrier. No dancing is allowed indoors, Randolph said, but outdoor dancing is permitted if those dancing together are in the same household and are six feet apart.

Indoor smoking, vaping, or smoking hookahs are not permitted indoors, Randolph said. Face masks are still mandated at all times in gyms, even when working out, he said.



The loosening of these restrictions come as the holiday surge of virus cases begin to ease in Shelby County. Randolph thanked residents for this and said virus number in the county have “plateaued and actually showing a downward trend.”

SCHD director Alisa Haushalter said the county is now experiencing a bit more than 500 new cases per day, which is a decrease over post-holiday figures. She said she was “very, very proud to acknowledge that as a community, our reproduction rate was at .89 percent,” meaning virus transmission the county is beginning to slow.

click to enlarge Shelby County Health Department director Alisa Haushalter speaks at Tuesday's briefing. - SHELBY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT/FACEBOOK
  • Shelby County Health Department/Facebook
  • Shelby County Health Department director Alisa Haushalter speaks at Tuesday's briefing.

Randolph and Haushalter applauded the work of county residents in bending the virus-case curve back down after the holidays. However, Randolph urged continue vigilance to social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing. Haushalter said “there is much work ahead of us and we have a long way to go before the pandemic is over.”

Dr. Judy Martin, the health department’s chief of nursing and its vaccine lead, said 13,355 doses had been administered in the county as of Saturday. She expected the number of those vaccinated should begin to “pick up quite a bit.”

Haushalter said she expects vaccination deliveries to become larger and more predictable as President-Elect Joe Biden takes office. While hard numbers and timelines for this weren’t known, she said, she expects to see a change in our vaccine deliveries here in a couple of weeks. The health department is in the process of securing more locations for vaccinations.

Haushalter also said details for those needing the second dose of the vaccine should come out this week. The health department has enough, she said, to vaccinate the 9,500 people who already received the first dose.

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