NASHVILLE, Tenn. June 28, 2020 – Dr. Michael Caldwell, Director of the Metro Public Health Department has issued Public Health Order 8 that mandates the use of facial coverings or masks. The Order takes effect, 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.
The Metropolitan Board of Health voted at a specially called meeting Friday, June 26 for Dr. Caldwell and the Metro Public Health Department to develop a Public Health Order mandating facial coverings be worn when in public. Board members set a deadline to complete the new Order by 5 p.m. today.
This comes at a time when Nashville and Tennessee have seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
Board members gave Dr. Caldwell and the department discretion over the details of the Order, such as differing requirements for indoor versus outdoor usage and the incorporation of appropriate social distancing in lieu of face coverings.
The Board expressed support for mandating masks as a preferred alternative to reverting to previous phases of Metro’s response to the COVID pandemic. Previous requirements closed many sectors of the economy entirely, and limited the operations of others below levels that are currently allowed in Phase 3 of the city’s phased re-opening plan.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cloth masks are helpful in limiting the spread of the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19, especially for those who are infected with virus but do not exhibit symptoms.
For more information visit the COVID19.nashville.gov website.