Gov. Lee signs executive order allowing contact sports, extending local mask mandate authority

Local Coronavirus Coverage

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Friday that opens the door for high school football and extends local government authority to mandate the use of face coverings.

Executive Order No. 55 allows for the return of contact sports, including football, provided that TSSAA guidelines are followed.

“Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student-athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” Lee said in a news release. “We have worked directly with the TSSAA to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff, and fans safe.”

Local education agencies and schools shall, notwithstanding any orders or provisions to the contrary, have the authority to permit, but are not required to permit, school-sponsored sporting events and activities, provided that all such activities, including practices and games or competition, must be conducted in a manner consistent with COVID-19-related regulations adopted by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Non-school-sponsored athletics, including practices and games or competition, must be conducted in a manner consistent with guidance from the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group (i.e., Tennessee Pledge), including further and updated operational guidance to be forthcoming. Collegiate and professional sporting events and activities must be conducted pursuant to the rules or guidelines of their respective governing bodies.

Executive Order No. 55

The governor’s order also extends local government authority to require the use of face coverings.

“This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies,” Lee said. “Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods.”

School districts and colleges are “strongly encouraged to implement a policy requiring the use of face coverings by students and staff.” It also bans any policies that may prohibit a student, teacher, or school employee from earing a face covering.

The governor’s latest order will remain in effect through Aug. 29.

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