Metro Public Health Department has lifted the mask mandate in Nashville following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stated individuals who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks in most outdoor and indoor settings.
Local and federal officials are still encouraging those who have not received a vaccine or who are immunocompromised to continue wearing a mask in public spaces.
The CDC says current COVID-19 vaccines reduce transmission and prevent illness, but researchers are still exploring how well they protect people with weakened immune systems and how effective they will be against emerging variants.
After the new guidance was released from the CDC Thursday afternoon, city officials initially left the mandate in place as they met to evaluate whether it could be lifted.
“With less than half of Davidson County residents vaccinated, and Tennessee lagging the national average among people that are fully vaccinated, dropping of mask requirements at this time in high-risk settings is not feasible,” the department said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “In addition, we are just now vaccinating our 12-15 year-olds and this will give them time to become vaccinated.”
Officials later reversed, and the mask mandate expired with all other public health restrictions on Friday.
Nashville is now officially reopened at full capacity at the discretion of individual businesses, in line with the timeline requested by Gov. Bill Lee to end all pandemic-related business restrictions and mask mandates by the end of May.
In a statement from the Metro Public Health Department, city officials said: “The MPHD continues to strongly recommend wearing masks for those who are unvaccinated when in crowds, indoors, and when unable to socially distance, as also recommended by the CDC. Each individual business retains the right to set their own restrictions regarding the use of masks."
The move comes as the pandemic continues to subside despite lagging vaccination rates across the state. Active cases and the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to drop, now at levels experienced last June, and nearly 2.1 million people (approximately 30 percent) of the population has been fully vaccinated.