NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Mayor John Cooper said Thursday he will launch Phase One of his plan to restart Nashville’s economy on Monday, even as the daily average of new COVID-19 cases trends higher.
Mayor Cooper made the announcement during his daily pandemic press briefing. He acknowledged that not all of the city’s coronavirus metrics are trending in a positive direction. Health officials have reported an average of more than 100 new infections per day over the past week. Thirty-five residents have died, including five on Tuesday alone.
However, the mayor argued other metrics do suggest progress. He noted that the city continues to expand testing capacity, and that the number of days it takes for the new case count to double remains steady. That last is a metric deemed especially important by national and international health experts.
Acknowledging that the virus will continue to disrupt daily life until a vaccine can be created, Cooper then asked “How do we go forward?”
The Mayor’s answer is the launch next week of a four-part, slow-roll plan toward a new normal in Music City. Successive phases will be introduced if new data show the virus remains under control.
Phase one of the plan beginning Monday will include opening the city’s restaurants, retail stores and medical offices at reduced capacity. But bars, gyms, and entertainment venues will remain closed. In addition, Nashvillians will be required to wear face masks in public.
Health officials will continue to encourage residents to shelter and work from home if they are able, especially those who are over 65 or medically fragile.
In his Thursday presentation, Mayor Cooper promised vigorous enforcement of the pandemic restrictions that remain in force. Businesses operating before being given permission to do so will get a visit from health inspectors and Metro Police. Groups larger than 10 individuals will not be permitted. The mayor says an additional 20 city employees are being hired to manage enforcement.
Mayor Cooper promised additional restart plan details on Friday. He also promised special webinars designed to help the faith and entertainment communities prepare for their own restarts in later phases of the launch plan.
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