Shelby drops mask mandate for indoor spaces, but not schools

October 27, 2021 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s most populous county lifted a mask requirement for indoor public spaces on Wednesday amid a drop in COVID-19 cases, but face coverings were still required inside schools.

Shelby County, which includes Memphis, was still highly recommending mask-wearing inside restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops and other indoor spaces, according to an order issued by the county health department.

Masks were still required for students, teachers and staff in the county’s schools, except for teachers who need to remove their mask for class instruction.

Officials issued the mask mandate in August, after coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiked. Health officials reported 78 newly-confirmed cases on Wednesday, a significant decrease from a daily jump of 1,295 cases on Sept. 8.

The seven-day rolling average of daily reported cases was 90 on Wednesday, down from 835 on Sept. 13.

Shelby County is not currently considered a “high transmission” area by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the order said.

“This is due in large part to many businesses and schools who have been providing a safe environment for customers, students, and employees by requiring masks,” the order said.

The change comes as the Tennessee General Assembly convenes Wednesday to begin a special session to discuss issues related to COVID-19.