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Public Health Directive


Pursuant to the Declarations of a State of Emergency by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the Necessity of a Communicable Disease Control Threat Procedure by the Shelby County Health Department

TO: Residents, Visitors, and Owners/Operators of Services, Facilities, and/or Businesses in Shelby County, Tennessee

FROM: Lee Harris, Shelby County Mayor

Bruce Randolph, M.D., M.P.H, Shelby County Health Officer

LaSonya Harris Hall, M.H.A., Ph.D., Interim Director

RE: Public Health Announcement on COVID-19 Response

Directive 21: Summary of Changes

• Replaces Face Mask Directive No. 5 upon Health Directive 21’s effective date (May 15, 2021), resulting in one consolidated document for COVID-related information;

• Provides guidance on when masks must not be worn, when they must be worn, and when they are highly recommended;

• Requires masks for certain employees who work in environments where there is an increased risk of exposure;

• Requires businesses, school authorities, and public authorities that require masks to post proper notice signs are posted at frequently used entrances;

• 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. 

Services and/or Businesses – Requests for Health Department Technical Assistance Regarding Safety Measures and/or Protocols:

Public Health Directive

Printable Version of Health Directive No. 21 May 14, 2021

Shelby County has experienced two very difficult waves of the coronavirus. One began a year ago in 2020, and the other occurred only six months later in October of 2020. Fortunately for all of us and our healthcare system, Shelby County’s COVID-19 cases and data indicate that Shelby County is ready to move into a new phase. Let’s all be thankful for that. However, it is important to remember that new COVID-19 variants are appearing in Shelby County, which means there could be another surge of this devastating virus. We are working hard to prevent this from happening by getting everyone vaccinated. Yet it remains likely that it will take several more weeks or months for us to reach herd immunity. That’s why it’s critical that everyone in Shelby County assume the personal responsibility that’s needed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We ALL should get vaccinated and encourage our family and our friends to do so. We ALL should continue to get tested for COVID-19, especially if there are questions about symptoms. Testing is free and so is the vaccine. In summary, we urge you – everyone – to continue to be considerate and responsible, not only for your own health, but also for the well-being of those you love and the entire community.

For more information about how you can help increase public confidence in, and uptake of, COVID-19 vaccines while reinforcing basic prevention measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, go to:

“We Can Do This” 

All persons age 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

All persons age 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

For current eligibility, check here:

Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

This Directive provides guidance on:

A. Wearing Face Masks/Face Coverings;

B. Preventive Measures for Individuals;

C. Preventive Measures for all Services and Businesses; and

D. Preventive Measures for Services and Businesses that involve in-person interaction with the public or those that otherwise regularly welcome non-workers into their place of business.

A. Wearing Face Masks/Coverings:

“Masks” are face coverings worn over the nose and mouth to keep respiratory droplets from spreading to others. Without masks, respiratory droplets can be easily spread while speaking, coughing, sneezing, singing, or yelling. Masks are an additional step to help prevent people from getting and spreading COVID-19 and should be used until local, state, or federal authorities provide otherwise, or the CDC declares the pandemic is over. Upon the effective date of this Directive, Face Mask Directive No. 5 is replaced by the following guidance for individuals and businesses to observe.

Guidance for Wearing Masks

Requirement for Face Masks on Public Transportation Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs

CDC requires wearing of face masks while on public transportation and at transportation hubs

1. Masks are not required in the following circumstances:

a. You are a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability.

b. You are under two years of age.

c. You are a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations (

d. You have been fully vaccinated and not required to wear a mask as provided in “A.2.” below.

[Note: You are “fully vaccinated” 2 weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.]

2. Unless you fall under any of the circumstances described above, masks must be worn in Shelby County in the following circumstances:Unless you fall under any of the circumstances described above, masks must be worn in Shelby County in the following circumstances:

a. You are awaiting, boarding, disembarking, or traveling on public airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares as they are traveling into, within, or out of the United States and U.S. territories. This includes hubs, airports, terminals, stations, and ports of entry.

b. You are working or visiting at a business, restaurant, school, or any other establishment that requires you to wear a mask (regardless of whether you are vaccinated) and has posted “mask required” notice signs at frequently used entrances.

[Note: Schools should continue to submit and obtain approval from the Tennessee Department of Education for their Continuous Learning Plans, including any COVID-19 related measures:]

c. You are entering property on which a public authority (local, state, or federal) has a propriety interest, and that authority requires you to wear a mask while in the property and has posted “mask required” notice signs at frequently used entrances.

3. Masks are highly recommended in any of the following circumstances if you are not vaccinated:

a. You are in a public setting around people who don’t live in your household, especially when indoors and when it may be difficult for you to stay six feet apart from people who don’t live with you.

b. You are around people who don’t live with you, regardless of whether you are inside your home or inside someone else’s home.

c. You are inside your home with someone who is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19.

d. You are engaged in outdoor activities and physical distancing of six feet or more from persons who are not members of your household is not feasible, regardless of crowd size.

B) Preventive Measures for Individuals:

Individuals should follow CDC guidance on preventive measures and personal practices that can be taken to prevent themselves and others from becoming infected by the COVID-19 virus:

1. Individuals must cooperate with the Department on contact tracing and case investigation.

2. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must report this information to the Department by calling 901-222-MASK (which is 901-222-6275) or by faxing the information to 901-222-8249. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must notify those who are known to have been in contact with them.

3. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate in accordance with CDC Guidance, and individuals who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 must quarantine in accordance with CDC Guidance.

Isolate if You are Sick

When to Quarantine

An isolation and quarantine calculator can be found here

C) Preventive Measures for all Services and Businesses

The following preventive measures are required:

1. Cooperate with health authorities’ efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.

2. Report to the Department any employee who has had contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19 by calling 901-222-MASK (which is 901-222-6275) or by faxing the information to 901-222-8249. For employers needing after-hours assistance, please call 901-232-4036.

3. Comply with all federal and state business COVID-19 safety requirements, such as the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) requirements. 

4. Provide employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

OSHA’s General Duty Clause

5. Place prominent signs at entrances and high-traffic areas notifying employees, customers, and visitors if masking is required or recommended.

6. Require all workers to stay home if they are sick pursuant to the following CDC guidance. Workers who meet CDC criteria or symptoms for COVID-19 should be directed to leave the premises immediately and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing.

How to Protect Yourself and Others

What to Do if You are Sick

7. If an employer is informed that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the employer must close the areas where the employee worked for cleaning and disinfecting pursuant to CDC and OSHA guidance:

Toolkit for Worker Safety and Support

CDC Guidance on Workplaces and Businesses

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

The following preventive measures are recommended:

1. Place prominent signs at entrances and high-traffic areas that state that workers, customers, and visitors should not enter if they are sick or currently have signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

2. Ensure proper ventilation in all indoor areas of any business location:

Ventilation in Buildings

3. Continue promoting frequent and thorough handwashing by providing workers, customers, and visitors a place to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer at or near entrances to a facility and other high-traffic areas. It is strongly encouraged that CDC handwashing guides be placed in all bathrooms and near any handwashing sink.

Wash Your Hands! (sign)

4. Clean and sanitize all drinking fountains when in use and encourage customers, staff, or attendees of any event to bring their own water, as feasible, to minimize the use of water fountains.

5. Develop a plan on how to communicate with workers/customers/patrons if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

6. Discourage workers from using other employee’s phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. When this is not possible, sanitizers should be used both prior to use of communal items and immediately after, and care should be taken not to touch the face.

7. Increase regular housekeeping practices for all areas, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, high-touch areas, work areas, break rooms, bathrooms, common areas, and any other areas of the work environment.

8. Consider limiting the number of people who can enter a facility at any time to no more than the number of people that can maintain a minimum 6-feet distance from each other at all times, except when necessary to complete a business transaction, such as payment or delivery of goods. 

Lessors of Residential Properties. 

HUD and its PHA and private landlord partners have been taking steps to mitigate the impact of COVID as each state reopens its economies. Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best option for all is for renters to pay (or be able to pay) their rent.

Tenants and landlords may submit applications for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance Program:

The displacement of COVID-19 positive citizens from their homes pursuant to a writ of possession, upon the filing of eviction proceedings, without notice of available assistance by the local health department is precluded by local health directive, its authority vested in state regulations regarding communicable diseases, including quarantine and isolation.

All inhabitants, present and/or readily available, of the dwelling which is the subject of eviction proceedings must be provided informational resources for rental assistance, food and housing instability, employment, and general health from the Shelby County Health Department and Shelby County Division of Community Services to further mitigate the secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Property owners, landlords, or their hired agents must distribute the following notice concurrently with the service of process of a Forcible Entry and Detainer Action (or Summons and Complaint) to any individual against whom an FED or other eviction action is filed. The notice must be provided in English and in Spanish:

Emergency Utility, Rental/Mortgage, Medical/Prescriptions, and Family Support Assistance is available.

• If you or anyone in your household are currently quarantined or are in isolation due to COVID-19 and are unable to secure housing at this time, please notify the Shelby County Health Department by calling 901-222-MASK (which is 901-222-6275) or by faxing the information to 901-222-8249. Temporary housing support may be available.

• If you are behind on your rent or utilities, you may be eligible for relief for up to 12 months of your payments, made directly to your landlord or MLGW.

• Eligibility is determined by income, and residents must also be able to demonstrate that they had an income loss due to COVID-19.

• Legal assistance may be available for eviction/FED cases in court.

• To apply, visit or or text “home901” or “casa” to 21000.


COVID-19 Asystencia Urgente para pagar su renta o servicios públicos (Emergency Rent Assistance).

• Si usted o una persona en su hogar está en cuarentena o aislado debido a COVID-19 y no sea posible obtener una vivienda en este momento, por favor notifica al Departamento de Salud de Shelby County por llamada a 901-222-MASK (901-222-6275) o por fax a 901-222-8249. Asistencia temporal de vivienda puede ser disponible.

• Si debe en alquiler o servicios públicos, puede ser elegible para asistencia de emergencia hasta 12 meses de pagos, pagado directamente a su dueño o MLGW.

• Elegibilidad esta basada en sus ingresos, y es necesario demonstrar que haya perdidio ingresos debido a COVID-19.

• Asistencia legal puede ser disponible por desalojos/FED en la corte

• Para aplicar, visita a o o mandar por text “casa901” a 21000.

For purposes of ensuring the public health safety of all residents and visitors in Shelby County, executions of any writs of possession cannot occur unless:

1) this notice has been provided to the tenant(s) or resident(s) of the subject premises either with the service of process of the eviction notice or at least two weeks before execution of a writ of possession, whichever is shorter. An example of proof of notice that can be used can be found here:; and

2) proof of this notice is provided to the Department via email to or fax to 901-222-8249.

In those cases when the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) provides service of notices of writs of execution or assists in executing such writs, SCSO has previously implemented a process for providing this notice before executing all writs of possession. Private process servers should also implement a procedure for providing the notice. Courts and clerks who assist in FED action may also provide information about the notice requirement to private process servers. The failure to provide this notice may result in temporarily halting a private process server’s authority to participate in executions of writs of possession for impeding the Health Department’s obligation to protect public health. 

D. Preventive Measures for Services and Businesses that require in-person interaction with the public or those who otherwise regularly welcome non-employees into their place of business

The following preventive measures are required.

1. Must provide a hand sanitizing station (with adequate signage) at buffets for customers to use prior to and after serving themselves and require customers and employees to wear a mask while at a buffet. The sanitizing station must be properly distanced from any food in compliance with food permit restrictions on keeping chemicals away from food.

2. Regularly clean/disinfect restrooms, lounges, gyms, and shower facilities.

The following preventive measures are recommended.

1. If feasible, implement contactless transactions.

2. Indicate where lines may form at a facility, marking 6-foot increments as guides for where individuals should stand to maintain social distancing.

3. Consider installing Plexiglass barriers at registers and other employee/customer points of contact.

4. Replace gloves used by workers whenever they wash their hands or whenever gloves become contaminated with a foreign substance. Do not reuse disposable gloves.

5. Consider maintaining a distance of 6-feet between family or close-contact customer groups such that anyone in one group is 6-feet away from anyone in another group.

6. If any seating is closed, place signs on “closed” fixed seating or equipment to allow patrons to readily determine how to seat themselves with sufficient social distancing.

7. Encourage the use of outdoor space for the provision of services, where practical. Restaurants in particular are encouraged to provide outdoor dining.

8. Consider creating a plan to limit the communal use of items and products, such as eating or writing utensils and condiment containers. 

9. Use best efforts to make accommodations for one-way traffic flow and/or specific entrances and exits if the layout of the establishment is such that ingress/egress would often prompt encounters of less than 6 feet.

10. Consider maintaining at least 18-feet of separation—and more if possible—between audience members and performers (such as singers, musicians, dancers and/or performers). Seating and spacing modifications may be adopted to increase physical distances by at least 18-feet between any observer and any performer. Consider installing barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles between performers or maximize physical spacing between performers on-stage by at least 6-feet. 

Daycare and Childcare businesses should follow CDC guidance.

Guidance for Childcare

Schools, School Systems, Colleges and Universities, through their governing boards and presidents, retain sole responsibility in making decisions on providing instruction to their students while protecting the health and safety of their students, faculty, and staff. Nothing in this Directive should be construed to stipulate or require campuses to open or close. In all cases, colleges and universities should consult the guidance issued by OSHA, the CDC, and considerations outlined by the American College of Health Association. A school may seek the Department’s technical assistance for its physical location, but the Department will not issue “approvals” of any operational plan(s).

CDC Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools

CDC Schools and Childcare Programs

CDC Colleges, Universities, and Higher Learning

When there is the occurrence of a single confirmed COVID-19 infection at childcare facilities, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, or other in-person learning facilities, the leadership of the learning facility shall contact and coordinate with the Department to identify parents, students, and staff who are risk. Once identified, childcare facilities, schools, colleges/universities, and other learning facilities should notify the Department, parents, students, and staff who are at risk within 12 hours. Further, updates to the Department, parents, students, and staff at risk should be provided by schools, at a minimum, on a weekly basis. The updates should include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including whether normal operations in the buildings or facility will be altered.  

The Shelby County Government Division of Corrections shall follow all safety precautions as stated in any executive order by Mayor Lee Harris.

Detention facilities: Facility administrators should adopt protocols that house new detainees separately from the inmate population in order to properly screen and care for a new inmate until such time as the new inmate can safely be placed in the same environment with the existing inmate population. If any detained person is released on their own recognizance (ROR) or makes bond, they should be provided with a copy of the current “Shelby County Health Order and Directive” and asked to follow that directive upon release. Additionally, they shall be provided information (6th grade reading level) about COVID-19 and “How to Protect Yourself and Others” issued by the CDC:

Nothing in this Directive shall be used to delay or impede the release of detained individuals if they are eligible to be released.

Event Planners for Large-scale festivals, fairs, parades, sporting events, and community events

may, but are not required to, seek the Department's seek the Department’s feedback for their event plan(s) if such technical assistance is desirable. 

County Courts and Court Buildings: 

All county courts and county buildings where courts are located must follow the guidelines established by the Tennessee Supreme Court (which can be found at: and these additional preventive measures:

1. All employers or officials who oversee workers must comply with all applicable businesses and services preventive measures contained in this Directive.

2. It is Shelby County Government’s prerogative to implement health checks and screening protocols for visitors to any County building and to utilize proctors throughout the building to ensure that these provisions are followed.

3. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), as is already the case, is responsible for maintaining security in the courthouse, including courtrooms and common areas. Governmental entities that have workers at the courthouse are responsible for ensuring that all of their workers or contractors comply with the recommendations/requirements in this Directive.

4. The Department may close all or part of the courthouse if 1) preventive measures are not observed or 2) if current conditions present an increased public health risk within the buildings where courts are housed until such time as appropriate safety measures are implemented.

Long Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Centers: 

Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

The Department shall have unrestricted access to the facility where such access is determined necessary by the Department for purposes of investigating COVID-19 cases and testing all personnel for COVID-19, and in such circumstances, the operator and administrator shall cooperate fully to facilitate such testing. Any positive test result shall be reported to the Department of Health by 5:00 p.m. of the day following receipt of such test result. Consistent with CDC guidance, facilities must inform residents and their representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of 1) a single confirmed infection of COVID-19 or 2) three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours. Updates to residents and their representatives must be provided weekly and after each subsequent time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours. Updates should include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission including whether normal operations in the facility will be altered.

Please contact the Department if you require technical assistance regarding any preventive measures.

Nothing in this order restricts the ability of the Department to take targeted action against specific businesses where COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters occur (or may occur) under the Department’s longstanding authority to control disease outbreaks.

The goal is safety while balancing the needs of citizens to receive the necessities of life, i.e., food and shelter, allowing people to work in a safe manner, and further ensuring the availability of resources to the community. Every effort should be made by individuals, businesses, and services to take steps to stop the spread of this deadly disease. These actions are meant to protect everyone. 

Requirement to Collect Demographic Data

Any health care provider located in Shelby County, Tennessee that provides COVID-19 testing or clinical care shall provide to the Department, as requested by the Department, demographic data regarding individuals tested or cared for by the provider. Such data shall be in such forms, formats and/or schedules that the Department will reasonably specify to the provider by written guidelines, including by way of example and without limitation the following data: gender, race, ethnicity, date of birth or other indicia of age, and such other demographic-based clinical information that the Department deems relevant and necessary to respond to and serve the needs of Shelby County related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Your Right of Review

If you feel this Directive has been issued in error, you may request a review by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tim Jones, for the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), or his designee, at (615) 741-3111. Dr. Jones, or a designee, will review your request within five (5) business days of its receipt, and you will receive a decision in writing. You may also request that the TDH obtain a court order containing the provisions of this Directive. If you request this option, the TDH will take the matter to an available and appropriate court of record. Please be aware you are still required to abide by all of the provisions contained in this Health Directive during any review process. A copy of the rules setting forth the Health Directive procedure and related rights is available on the Shelby County Health Department website.  


Pursuant to the emergency management authority vested in Shelby County, Tennessee, for coordination of relief efforts in the event of a countywide emergency that may result in substantial injury or harm to the population, and the necessity to respond to public health emergencies vested in the Shelby County Public Health Department (“the Department”), this Health Order and Directive (“Directive”) is being issued to protect the public health for all citizens and businesses in Shelby County, Tennessee. 

1) Health Directive:,

2) For FAQs and contact tracing information, click here.

Approved and adopted by:







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