Mask mandates, capacity restrictions end across Tennessee

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

TENNESSEE – As of midnight tonight, the city of Memphis will no longer enforce its mask ordinance and mask mandates across the state of Tennessee will officially be at an end. All COVID-19 related capacity restrictions have also been lifted statewide.

The CDC released updated guidance yesterday that fully vaccinated Americans could discard masks outdoors, and in many situations indoors. 

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

On April 27, Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 80 ending local authority for county mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to require face coverings throughout their jurisdictions. He then called on counties with independent health departments – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – that had remaining business restrictions or mask requirements to lift all measures no later than May 30.

Davidson and Shelby counties were the only two jurisdictions in the state that carried their mask mandates and business limitations into the month of May. After yesterday’s CDC update, the holdouts quickly announced that they would follow the rest of the state in returning to normal activities.

Davidson County ended its mask mandate at 5 a.m. on May 14 and Shelby County will end theirs at 12 a.m. on May 15. 

Businesses will still be able to establish their own rules about wearing masks and allowed to set their own capacity limit within the number permitted by law.

It is still highly recommended that those unvaccinated wear masks when in crowds, indoors and when unable to socially distance, as recommended by the CDC.

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