NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Department of Health’s order to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County went into effect Monday.
Public Health Order 8 took effect on Monday, June 29 at 12:01 a.m.
The order comes when Nashville and Tennessee are seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.
If you are outdoors or indoors, you have to wear a mask or face coverings but there are some exceptions —for example, if you are six feet apart from others, you don’t have to wear it.
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.
The Metro Board of Health held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon and the motion passed unanimously. Board members say their goal is to continue protecting the public.
“So I think that we see that this is based on the science that we see this is keeping the pandemic a bit more under control in Asia and in Europe and I think, short of shutting the economy down again, this is the only tool we have and I think that we all like to see the economy functioning and I have to believe that wearing a face mask is a small price to pay for that,” explained David A. Frederick with the Metro Board of Health.
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.
“Our department has done such a great job working so hard on enforcing so many things. It’s perhaps, you know, we ask our colleagues and employees in other places who are going around and seeing things also have warnings and recognizing that this is a whole community and as I mentioned previously in other forums, everyone is responsible for our community,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir with Metro’s coronavirus task force.
Anyone found in violation of the order can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor, but that does not go into effect until after July 3.
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.