Lee gives mayors in 89 counties go-ahead to require masks

(Governor Bill Lee press release) Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54 to grant county mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue local mask requirements in the event of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.

“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” said Gov. Lee. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee. We encourage every Tennessean across the state to use a face covering or mask, make sure to socially distance and wash hands frequently.”

The six counties with locally run health departments including Sullivan, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Madison and Shelby counties retain the existing authority to issue mask requirements as needed.

You can read the Executive Order by following this link.

(Excerpt from Executive Order #54)

In accordance with CDC guidance, persons, including employees or customers of businesses, are strongly urged to wear cloth face coverings or other similar coverings in public settings where being in close proximity to others is anticipated, and particularly where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain at all times.  Such cloth face coverings can be created from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.  Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.  Surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers and first responders. 

Orders or measures issued by county mayors pursuant to this Order should be consistent with CDC guidance and may have such exemptions as deemed advisable, provided that, at a minimum, there shall be no requirement that a face covering be worn:

i.          Within one’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for hire;

ii.         By a child twelve (12) years of age or younger;

iii.        By someone who has trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason for not wearing a face covering;

iv.        By someone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance;

v.         While eating or drinking;

vi.        While outdoors, unless the person cannot substantially maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household;

vii.       While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household is substantially maintained;

viii.      In situations in which wearing a face covering poses a safety or security risk;

ix.        While in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged; or

  1.         While in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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