Metro Department of Health issues order mandating face masks in Nashville starting Monday

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Department of Health has issued an order to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County.

The order will take effect on Monday, June 29 at 12:01 a.m.

“Face coverings help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Mayor John Cooper. “The health of our community requires every Nashvillian to do their part. While our testing capacity continues to grow, the coronavirus remains a largely invisible threat. So, it’s vital that all who live and work in Davidson County maintain healthy habits.”

Masks/face coverings must be worn when in indoor and outdoor public spaces but are not required in the following settings and circumstances:

  • By any child aged 12 years or younger. Any child younger than two years old must not wear a face covering because of risk of suffocation.  Parents and caregivers must supervise the use of face masks by children to avoid misuse.
  • In outdoor public spaces unless maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible;
  • While engaged in outdoor work or recreation, such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, unless maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible;
  • By those who cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering. No person declining to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall be required to produce verifying medical documentation;
  • Within one’s own or another’s motor vehicle, provided the vehicle is not being used for public transportation or a vehicle for hire;
  • Within educational institutions, public and private K-12 schools, private colleges and universities, trade schools, post-secondary, and technical colleges, provided K-12 schools comply with the conditions in Nashville Plan: A Framework for a Safe, Efficient and Equitable Return to School, as outlined at https://news.mnps.org/nashvilles-plan-for-reopening-schools/;
  • By those working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces that have more than adequate area for social distancing based on the size of and number of people in the space (either indoors or outdoors). Such persons must be prepared to wear a face covering when interacting with others in groups of 6 or more persons or in groups of any size where social distancing of more than six (6) feet cannot be consistently maintained;
  • When wearing a face covering poses a safety risk or security risk. “Safety risk” includes, but is not limited to, where wearing a face covering may pose a risk to persons working on ladders or at height, wearing other respiratory protection, engaging in heavy physical exertion, operating heavy equipment, or operating in an environment where a face covering hinders communications. “Security risk” includes, but is not limited to, an activity or transaction where establishing the identity of the customer or employee is important. However, employers are encouraged to structure work to promote social distancing and limit close contact as much as possible within workplaces where Face Coverings may pose such risks;
  • When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment;
  • While in a place of worship. Places of worship are strongly encouraged to follow the health guidelines in paragraph 3 of Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 38, issued on May 22, 2020; and
  • While in a building or indoor space owned, managed, or leased by the State of Tennessee or federal government.

On Friday, the Metro Public Health Board decided in a special session that the order would be drafted up by Sunday afternoon. This comes at a time when Nashville and Tennessee have seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

“This is not a political message,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir of the Metro Board of Health on Friday. “This is safety.”

Board members agreed they did not want the mandate to be punitive, and that the goal was to continue protecting the public by the continued embracing of social distancing and the changing of behaviors.

“The goal is to change behavior not create citations to punish people financially. That’s what I am in favor of,” said Tené Hamilton Franklin, vice-chair of the board.

The vote for the motion passed unanimously across the board Friday afternoon.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.

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