NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As Metro prepares to lift all capacity restrictions on businesses and gatherings on Friday, the indoor mask mandate is staying put.
"Masks, we’ve known for a long time, are the best defense against the spread of the virus," said Hugh Atkins, the Bureau Director for Environmental Health Services. "We want to be cautious and not remove all the restrictions."
Atkins said the indoor mask mandate applies to everyone, whether they are vaccinated or not. Local businesses owners have the option of implementing any restrictions they feel would keep employees or customers safe.
Metro Public Health Department officials plan to look at case numbers after the capacity restrictions are lifted. If the spread remains low, then they will consider ending the indoor mask mandate. However, as of now, there is no scheduled end date.
At D'Andrews Bakery and Cafe in downtown Nashville, owner David Andrews has enforced Metro's mask mandate since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We have always required you wear a mask when you walk into the store," said Andrews. "When you sit down, you can take off your mask and enjoy your meal."
While Andrews said he believes the mask policy keeps his employees and customers feeling safe, he will continue to support whatever recommendations Metro officials make.
"I do support the idea of keeping the mask mandate around for at least two more months," said Andrews. "If more people get vaccinated by July 1st, then maybe we can take away the mask mandate."
Currently, masks are not required outdoors in Metro. However, Metro Public Health Department officials said sports fans may want to keep their masks handy. Facial coverings are required at First Horizon Park when entering, exiting, and moving around the ballpark. Attendees may remove face coverings while actively eating or drinking while sitting in their assigned seating location. Masks will also be required at Nissan Stadium for Nashville SC games.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ended all statewide public health orders at the end of April, and that includes mask mandates. He also asked counties with independent health departments, including Davidson County, to lift all restrictions and mask requirements by the end of May.