Nashville moving to Phase 3 on Oct. 1; bars can increase capacity starting today

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Posted at 10:01 AM, Sep 17, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper says the city will move forward to its Phase Three of reopening beginning October 1. However, bars and limited service restaurants can increase their capacity starting Friday.

Cooper made the announcement on Thursday during Metro’s weekly COVID-19 update, saying "we will learn from this phase to prepare for the next."

Starting Friday, bars and restaurants can resume service at 50% capacity -- that’s up to 50 people inside and 50 people outside. Businesses can also remain open until 11 p.m.

"The markers of this next phase will be public school teaching in person, increased capacity at event spaces and attendance at larger events," said Cooper.

Cooper also announced that Tennessee Titans fans would be allowed to attend the Steelers game at Nissan Stadium on October 4 at 10% capacity.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of Metro's Coronavirus Task Force, said the World Health Organization recommends that before a region can relax its COVID-19 restrictions, the test positive rate from a comprehensive testing program should ideally be at 5%. As of today, he said Nashville's seven-day percent positive is at 5.1% -- the lowest it's been since March.

However, Dr. Jahangir cautioned that these next steps do not mean we’re "back to normal."

"Remember, we’ve been here before. We’ve opened back up and then had to adjust back to a modified Phase Two," he said. "We don’t want to have to pull back, but if the numbers show the virus is spreading, then we very well may pull back."

Modifications to Phase 2 have been happening since May 25. At one point, restaurants were allowed to have up to 75% capacity, but after Memorial Day, some of those rules were rolled back after COVID-19 cases spiked -- including the closure of bars. Metro last updated its modified Phase Two plan on Sept. 18.

Read more about Metro's reopening metrics here.