Metro Council members voted to move forward late Tuesday with a proposed ordinance that would impose an indoor mask mandate for individuals living and working in the city of Nashville and Davidson County.
The bill (BL2021-872), if passed, would require masks in public spaces like stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars. Violators could face a $50 fine.
Two notable exceptions to the wide-ranging measure are listed on page three and again on page four of the proposed ordinance. First is that masking is exempted while in houses of worship. The second is that the mask mandate does not apply while an individual is in a building or indoor space owned, managed, or leased by the State of Tennessee or federal government.
The members who supported the indoor mask mandate won the vote 21-12. The next Metro Council meeting is scheduled for October 5th where the vote for the mandate will come up for its third and final vote and, if passed, the ordinance would take effect immediately.
The text of the proposed ordinance does not name a date nor describe the conditions needed to end the mandate.
Joy Styles is the bill’s chief sponsor along with four other sponsors including Sharon Hurt, Sandra Sepulveda, Emily Benedict, and Russ Bradford.
Speaking to FOX 17 News, one of the sponsors of the bill, Russ Bradford, said in a statement, “I am supporting this bill because it’s the right thing to do. Masks work and they should be a part of a multi-pronged approach to combat this pandemic. If we could get more people vaccinated then we wouldn’t need to take this step, however with roughly 40% of our county unvaccinated and an even higher amount in our surrounding counties we must take steps to protect our citizens and our economy.”
Meanwhile, as FOX 17 News notes, the health department continues to stand its ground and say they stand behind a letter from MPHD Director Dr. Gill Wright stating as valuable as masks are, the way through this pandemic is vaccination. Dr. Wright added if hospitals are stretched to the breaking point or overrun by an influx of COVID cases, there could be action. But he says we aren’t at that point right now in Davidson County.
It is unclear what legal authority would be attached to this ordinance if it passes on a third reading.
The Metropolitan Council is the legislative authority of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, a city-county consolidated government created on April 1, 1963.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]