Mask Mandate: The Tennessee counties requiring face-coverings


Tennessee face mask (WKRN Graphic)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On July 3, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54, granting mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue local mask requirements in the event of rising COVID-19 cases.

The other six Tennessee counties, including Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Madison, have locally-run health departments which have the authority to issue mask requirements if they feel it’s necessary.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, several counties have issued mask requirements. Other counties are strongly encouraging the use of masks but are not requiring them at this time.

Middle Tennessee

Counties that have announced mask requirements.

Davidson County

Metro Public Health Department’s Public Health Order 8 took effect on June 29. The order enforces the mandatory wearing of masks or face-coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County.

There are some exceptions; if you are six feet apart from others, you don’t have to wear a mask. Other exceptions include children 12 and younger, outdoor activities like walking, biking or running, traveling in a car, inside schools if it is in compliance with the conditions in Nashville’s returning to school plan, eating or drinking in public, places of worship or if a person cannot medically tolerate a mask.

Metro Nashville Police Department began enforcing the city’s mandatory mask requirement on July 15. In a statement released July 14, Metro police said the mask mandate will be enforced throughout the city, but added there will be teams dedicated to patrolling Broadway because “the most recent heat map of active COVID-19 cases shows a high concentration in the downtown core.”

Williamson County

Williamson County’s face-covering requirement went into effect on July 8. It is expected to expire at 11:59 p.m. on August 29. Violation of the order could result in a Class A misdemeanor. Like Davidson, there are exceptions to the mandate.

Masks must be worn in publicly accessible areas of commercial business establishments along with areas of business where there is direct interaction. You must also mask up in public outdoor areas where 6 feet of social distancing isn’t possible.

“We know the mask doesn’t stop the virus, it contains it,” said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson. “If you’ve got it, and you’re asymptomatic at least you’re not spreading it.”

Wilson County

Mayor Randall Hutto has ordered a county-wide executive order requiring the wearing of face masks in public places, outside of exclusions listed for those who cannot maintain 6 feet of distance. The order went into effect July 19, and it has been extended until August 29.

This follows an order “strongly encouraging” the wearing of face masks on June 24. Hutto said the county’s numbers have continued to climb since then.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan tells News 2 that he and his department will continue to carry on with normal procedures and will not enforce the mandate.

“My primary concern during the spread of the virus is the safety and welfare of every Wilson County citizen,” said Sheriff Robert Bryan in a statement, “There are many people that are at a high risk because of underlying health issues and we encourage each of you to make the right choice; as I have also encouraged all deputies and staff to do the same. We join law enforcement agencies across the state through promoting safer and healthier communities in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19. We will not be enforcing written citations or fines but we will continue to educate and communicate the necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus.”

“I want to see full compliance with Mayor Hutto’s order so we can contain the virus as soon as possible,” stated Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick. “From the onset of this pandemic, we have focused on educating our community about the importance of wearing a mask and taking personal safety precautions. We have obtained substantial compliance without charging business owners or community members. This model will continue, and we will issue face masks to those in need rather than issuing a citation.”

Sumner County

Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt issued an executive order requiring citizens to wear masks or face-coverings when in public places starting July 7.

“Pandemic fatigue is real; our confusion and frustration is real…but now is the time to take proactive measures and focus on the health of our family, friends, neighbors, and community,” Holt said in a statement released on July 6.

This week Holt extended the order until August 29.

Montgomery County

Mayor Jim Durrett issued Emergency Order 13 requiring all Clarksville, Montgomery County residents and visitors to wear face-coverings in public to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through August 10. 

The order went into effect July 20. However, Durrett continues to extend the order as needed.

On Friday, July 17, Mayor Durrett met with City Mayor Joe Pitts as well as Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson, Clarksville Police Department Chief David Crockarell, and Director of Medical Services Jimmie Edwards to review the mandate. Mayor Durrett also conferred with Director of Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Millard House and Austin Peay State University President Alisa White regarding the mask mandate.

A previous order mandated that anyone working in a business that served the public needs to wear a mask. Those orders will be vacated and replaced by the new emergency order that everyone to wear masks. 

Robertson County

Mayor William Vogle announced masks are mandatory in all public buildings starting at 11:59 pm, July 8 through August 3.

Rutherford County

Rutherford County has announced a mask mandate that will begin Wednesday, July 22 at 12 a.m. This decision comes about two weeks after the county began its new initiative called “Rutherford Responsible“. The mask requirements have been extended through August 29.

Mayor Bill Ketron said the community was receiving a lot of negative attention due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. “We have got to do everything we possibly can to slow the spread of this virus in our communities. The sooner, the better.

Counties that have announced they will not mandate masks.

Cheatham County

Mayor Kerry McCarver said he will not be enforcing a mask mandate in the county amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but encourages masks when social distancing guidelines cannot be followed In a statement released on July 6, he explained why he would not be mandating masks in the county.

Coffee County

Mayor Gary Cordell announced the county would not mandate masks in Coffee County but encourages the use of them in public.

Dickson County

No mask mandate at this time.

Maury County

No mask mandate at this time.

Putnam County

In a July 6 Facebook post, Mayor Randy Porter wrote, “After analyzing the latest statistics and talking with many local and regional officials, I am not mandating anything at this time, but recommending and encouraging Putnam County to follow CDC guidelines. These include the use of face coverings in public settings, when social distancing is not easily practiced, washing hands frequently, staying at home if you are sick and the use of hand sanitizer.”

Porter said they would continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and make changes as necessary.

Hickman County

A statement from Mayor Mark Bentley released on July 8 said he strongly encouraged the use of masks, but the county would not mandate them.

“While there is not a local mandate to wear masks, I do strongly recommend and encourage Hickman County citizens to wear a mask while in public settings and in situations where social distancing cannot be reasonably practiced.  Also as a note of information, free face masks are available at the Hickman County Health Department.”

Marshall County

After speaking with county leaders, Mayor Mike Keny said he would not mandate masks in Marshall County at this time.

Other Parts of Tennessee

Shelby County

On July 3, Shelby County Health Department said they will be making masks mandatory for everyone in the county while out in public.

Hamilton County

The Hamilton County Health Department issued a mask mandate that will take effect Friday, July 10.

Sevier County

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters announced a countywide mandate requiring face-covering usage going into effect on Friday, July 10.

Knox County

The Knox County Board of Health approved a face-covering mandate for some indoor public places that took effect July 3.

Greene County

Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison issued a county-wide mask mandate that went into effect July 15 and lasts until 11:59 p.m. on August 14.

Washington County

County officials announced a county-wide mask mandate would be in effect from July 14 through August 3.

According to this mandate – A face covering over the nose and mouth shall be worn by employees and visitors inside businesses, organizations, or venues in use by members of the public. Children age 12 and under are not required to wear a face-covering.

Tennessee Supreme Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order calling for all people entering courthouses to wear face-coverings. The order took effect July 13 and will be in place until further notice.  

This list will be updated when more counties announce their decisions on mask mandates.

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