Mask Mandate: Tennessee counties requiring face-coverings because of the coronavirus pandemic

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On July 3, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54, granting mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue local mask requirements in the event of rising COVID-19 cases.

The other six Tennessee counties, including Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Madison, have locally-run health departments which have the authority to issue mask requirements if they feel it’s necessary.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, several counties have issued mask requirements. Other counties are strongly encouraging the use of masks but are not requiring them at this time.

Middle Tennessee

Counties that have announced mask requirements.

Davidson County

Metro Public Health Department’s Public Health Order 8 took effect on June 29. The order enforces the mandatory wearing of masks or face-coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County.

There are some exceptions; if you are six feet apart from others, you don’t have to wear a mask. Other exceptions include children 12 and younger, outdoor activities like walking, biking or running, traveling in a car, inside schools if it is in compliance with the conditions in Nashville’s returning to school plan, eating or drinking in public, places of worship or if a person cannot medically tolerate a mask.

Anyone found in violation of the order can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor and fined up to $50.

Williamson County

Williamson County’s face-covering requirement went into effect on July 8. It is expected to expire at 11:59 p.m. on August 3. Violation of the order could result in a Class A misdemeanor. Like Davidson, there are exceptions to the mandate.

Masks must be worn in publicly accessible areas of commercial business establishments along with areas of business where there is direct interaction. You must also mask up in public outdoor areas where 6 feet of social distancing isn’t possible.

“We know the mask doesn’t stop the virus, it contains it,” said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson. “If you’ve got it, and you’re asymptomatic at least you’re not spreading it.”

Sumner County

Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt issued an executive order requiring citizens to wear masks or face-coverings when in public places starting July 7.

“Pandemic fatigue is real; our confusion and frustration is real…but now is the time to take proactive measures and focus on the health of our family, friends, neighbors and community,” Holt said in a statement released on July 6.

Sumner County had experienced a rise in confirmed coronavirus cases, averaging 41 new cases each day between June 30 – July 5.

Montgomery County

Mayor Jim Durrett issued Emergency Order 9 requiring all business employees wear a mask unless social distancing can be consistently conducted. It also encourages all other residents to wear a mask.  

The order went into effect July 8 and ends July 15. However, Durrett said he plans to extend the order through July 22, and then decide whether to extend it further.

Robertson County

Mayor William Vogle announced masks are mandatory in all public buildings starting at 11:59 pm, July 8.

Counties that have announced they will not mandate masks.

Cheatham County

Mayor Kerry McCarver said he will not be enforcing a mask mandate in the county amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but encourages masks when social distancing guidelines cannot be followed In a statement released on July 6, he explained why he would not be mandating masks in the county.

Rutherford County

Mayor Bill Ketron said he won’t mandate masks but strongly encourages them. Rutherford County launched a new campaign called “Rutherford Responsible” to remind people to wear masks in public when social distancing isn’t practical. Ketron said he’s confident they can achieve this, “Without forcing their hand.”

Coffee County

Mayor Gary Cordell announced the county would not mandate masks in Coffee County but encourages the use of them in public.

Dickson County

No mask mandate at this time.

Maury County

No mask mandate at this time.

Putnam County

In a July 6 Facebook post, Mayor Randy Porter wrote, “After analyzing the latest statistics and talking with many local and regional officials, I am not mandating anything at this time, but recommending and encouraging Putnam County to follow CDC guidelines. These include the use of face coverings in public settings, when social distancing is not easily practiced, washing hands frequently, staying at home if you are sick and the use of hand sanitizer.”

Porter said they would continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and make changes as necessary.

Marshall County

After speaking with county leaders, Mayor Mike Keny said he would not mandate masks in Marshall County at this time.

Wilson County

Mayor Randall Hutto announced on July 8 that he will not mandate masks in the county but encourages the use of them.

Other Parts of Tennessee

Shelby County

On July 3, Shelby County Health Department said they will be making masks mandatory for everyone in the county while out in public.

Hamilton County

The Hamilton County Health Department issued a mask mandate that will take effect Friday, July 10.

Sevier County

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters announced a countywide mandate requiring face-covering usage going into effect on Friday, July 10.

Knox County

The Knox County Board of Health approved a face-covering mandate for some indoor public places that took effect July 3.

This list will be updated when more counties announce their decisions on mask mandates.

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