Nashville plans to move into phase 3 of reopening, despite a rising 14-day average of new cases in Davidson County.
“Yes, the 14-day trend is headed upward,” says Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the city’s coronavirus task force and the ultimate decision-maker for reopening. He says the massively expanded team of contact tracers and stable hospital capacity (see tracking here) show that the city can “tolerate” a further lifting of restrictions.
Over the last month in phase 2, the city has seen that grocery stores, restaurants or even gyms are not the primary sites for transmission. Jahangir says contact tracing has revealed that the virus seems to spread most easily at more informal gatherings that are more difficult to regulate.
“It’s happening when a bunch of people get together. Often they know each other. Often they feel more comfort and at ease with each other, so they don’t practice social distancing,” he says. “And that is when infections happen.”
Barring unforeseen changes, phase 3 begins Monday. The highlights:
- There’s no longer a 25-person cap on gatherings, though it’s still recommended.
- Bars can begin operating at half capacity.
- Entertainment venues can have as many as 250 people, so long as that’s less than half capacity.
“We are asking for compliance. But we will ensure compliance through appropriate enforcement of our public health orders,” Mayor John Cooper says. On Thursday, the Metro Beer Board suspended the licenses of four Nashville bars for violations.
- K-12 schools will also be allowed to resume in phase 3.
- Playgrounds, dog parks and all Metro Parks can reopen.
- Day camps can run their buses at full capacity.
- Overnight camps are allowed, so long as social distancing can still be observed at all times.
- See the details here.
The city is requiring masks when people are in close contact in public, but at this point, Metro officials only plan to enforce those rules on workers and not patrons.
“We have the techniques to reopen and be safe, if we follow them,” Cooper says.