Late Tuesday, Metro Nashville City Council members’ attempt to impose an indoor mask mandate was indefinitely deferred. Councilmember Joy Styles, chief sponsor of bill BL2021-872, moved to indefinitely defer the legislation that would have imposed a mask mandate in all indoor spaces in Nashville.
There were cheers in the chamber following the motion.
Along with Styles, the other council members who sponsored the bill included Sharon Hurt, Sandra Sepulveda, Emily Benedict, and Russ Bradford.
The bill would have required masks in public spaces like stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars with violators facing $50 fines.
As The Tennessee Star reported, 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.
Before the final decision was made on Tuesday, Councilmember Joy Styles presented an amendment moving to make the mask mandate null and void once 85 percent of Davidson County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Councilmember Sean Parker also moved to amend the legislation. Parker considered adding an ordinance that would lift the mask mandate at the beginning of 2022 unless extended by a Metro Council resolution.
Despite the amendments suggested by the councilmembers, the proposed ordinance is now effectively dead – although it is unclear what legal authority would have been attached to the measure, had it passed.
The Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) has previously said that a mask mandate isn’t needed, per CDC guidelines. The health department is standing by a letter from MPHD Director Dr. Gill Wright that states 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.
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.
Watch the Nashville Metro City Council meeting here:
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]