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Why Phase 3 keeps private gatherings to 25 people compared to 250 at events

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 21:30:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With Independence Day celebrations around the corner, many people may be considering hosting parties at their homes. However, the city's Phase Three guidelines say gatherings should be kept at 25 people or fewer.

The standard was unchanged from Phase Two to Phase Three, even as businesses were able to increase capacity or reopen for the first time.

Intimate gatherings are the most high-risk setting for transmission of COVID-19, according to the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville: Phase 3 Guidance and Resources.

Unlike homes, event spaces and small music venues are now allowed to hold up to 250 people, with seating provided for at minimum half of the total attendees. The difference between 250 and 25 people makes sense, according to Dr. David Aronoff of Vanderbilt University Medical Center Division of Infectious Diseases.

"For example, a crowd of people is there to watch a particular entertainer. They can spread out and still watch the stage," Dr. Aronoff explained. "But, if all those people are there to see each other then everybody sort of mingling and walking around, that number of people becomes a much more dense population and that's another reason to keep those numbers down."

Some spaces that can now hold more than 200 people usually can have a capacity of 1,500 or less. Aronoff said while they can operate at a fraction of the normal amount of people, being able to adhere to safety guidelines or not should be the ultimate call.

"If a venue cannot fit comfortably 250 people inside without violating social distancing then that's really not an appropriate maximum for them," he said.

As a real estate agent, Toni Thomas knows homes very well, but she excels the most in her own in East Nashville. As the city slowly reopened the economy, Thomas has been holding gatherings or parties in some capacity under strict safety protocols.

As often as Thomas have friends over, she maintains the group far below 25 people. She does have plans to host a large party soon but it's currently in the works. She stressed she will continue to comply with what doctors recommend.

"There's also a greater right which is making sure humankind is okay. This isn't about me," Thomas told NewsChannel 5. "My house is a controlled environment and I control the environment, so all of our friends know exactly where I stand on this."

Mayor John Cooper said the city should expect to be in Phase Three for four weeks.