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Shelby County (TN) Health Department Orders Stronger COVID-19 Requirements Amid Rising Spread


In a new effort to temper the rising COVID-19 spread, the Shelby County Health Department just issued a new health directive imposing new restrictions on “high risk settings,” including restaurants, bars, and gyms, which took effect on November 23. To account for the financial impact that Health Directive No. 15 may have on businesses, the Health Department announced a new program that will provide grants of at least $5,000 “for any business that faces closures of at least 30 days that is substantially related to Health Directive No. 15.” What do area employers need to know about this latest development?

What New Requirements Are Imposed On Businesses?

Designating bars and restaurants as “high-risk settings” for the transmission of COVID-19, the new Health Directive allows all restaurants and bars, including businesses that allow customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption, to remain open with the following restrictions:

In addition to bars and restaurants, the above requirements also apply to clubs, bowling alleys, adult entertainment venues, movie theaters, family entertainment venues, club houses, and any other establishment that allows for on-site consumption of food and/or alcoholic beverages.

The new Health Directive also requires other businesses (those that do not serve food/alcohol for on-site consumption) to comply with the following requirements:

Additionally, the Directive reiterates previously issued health and safety requirements, including prohibiting customers and employees from entering the building if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; conducting health screenings and temperature checks of employees prior to each shift; routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, equipment, and work areas; mask requirements; and social distancing measures. The full list of requirements may be found in the Health Directive.

What Are The Penalties For Non-Compliance?

The Health Department is authorized to close, for a minimum of 14 days, any business that refuses to comply with the current safety measures, creating an unsafe environment for members of the public. If this occurs, the business will be required to submit a safety reopening plan for the review and approval by the Health Department prior to resuming operations.

Additionally, non-compliant businesses may lose state or local licenses or permits that allow them to serve the public and a misdemeanor fine of up to $2,500 per incident may be assessed.

What Should Employers Do?


Fisher Phillips will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. For a more thorough analysis of the many issues you may encounter from a labor and employment perspective, we recommend you review our FP BEYOND THE CURVE: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers and our FP Resource Center For Employers.

Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our Memphis office, or any member of our Post-Pandemic Strategy Group Roster.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific county law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular situation.


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