//Officials explain exceptions to mask mandate

Officials explain exceptions to mask mandate

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – People are mandated to use face coverings and/or masks in public in Nashville, starting on Monday. 

The Metro Health Department issued Public Health Order 8 on Sunday that went into effect at midnight.

Metro Health Department issues Public Health Order 8, mandating masks in Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Dr. Michael Caldwell of the Metro Nashville Health Department has iss…

The move comes at a time where Nashville and Tennessee has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases.

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 by clicking here. 
  • 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

There are some exceptions to the order. No person who is declining to wear a face covering because of a medical condition, shall be required to produce verifying medical documentation.

Metro Police announced Monday night that officers will provide “printed advisories” to people who are not complying with the mask mandate.

According to a news release from MNPD, “officers have been instructed to educate and warn citizens concerning the requirement until further notice.”

Dr. Gill Wright with the Metro Health Department said the federal privacy rules come into play requiring someone to produce medical proof. 

“There’s no good way to document that, it’s really a hippa violation, asking someone for specific health information,” Gill said. 

Gill explained if someone without a medical condition use that exception for not wearing a mask. 

“There’s always a few bad actors. I would hope the public understands, this is a public health emergency,” Gill said. “We really do believe we need to be wearing these masks.”

Jackie Dreher is one of the owners of Two Danes Furniture on White Bridge Road. His store has a sign posted requiring customers to mask up before entering.

“All of our customers are coming in with a face mask,” Dreher said. 

Dreher explained if a customer does use the medical exception walking in unmasked. 

“I would ask them if they had a mask, if they told me they had a medical condition i would continue to help them and ask them to please keep their distance from other customers,” Dreher said. 

Business owners told News 4 they would essentially do the same, requiring the customer to at least social distance. 

The Metropolitan Board of Health voted at a specially called meeting Friday, to develop a Public Health Order mandating masks/facial coverings be worn in public

“Face coverings help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Mayor John Cooper said in a statement on Sunday. “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.”