After 53 days of being closed down, restaurants, retail stores and commercial businesses in Nashville will be allowed to open a half capacity on May 11, Mayor John Cooper announced on May 7.

The reopening of businesses at partial capacity is part of the city's four-part reopening plan, which relies on the downward trend or flattening of new reported cases for 14 days before advancing to the next phase. Cooper and city health officials initially announced the reopening plan on April 23.

“Now, Phase I reopening is not a broad reopening, it is a more targeted next phase of response to the disease as we must continue effective and enforced social distancing," Cooper said.

Cooper said the city has had fewer cases than initially projected thanks to the city's safer at home order, and while cases are still rising Cooper said it is unlikely that the virus will be wiped out entirely.

“Ideally it would be disappearing, but no one thinks that will happen until there is a vaccine," he said.

During the first phase, gyms and salons will remain closed, and gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted. Bars and entertainment venues will also stay closed, according to the plan.

Additionally, city officials urge residents to wear masks or cloth face coverings in public. According to an order issued by the Metro Public Health Department on May 1, businesses should require employees to wear masks or face coverings and post signage at all public entrances encouraging customers to wear masks while inside.

“Reward business that take special care and concern for public health and safety and, in a kind and courteous way, demand it," Cooper said.

Metro Coronavirus Task Force Chair Dr. Alex Jahangir said widespread testing has been key to limiting the spread of coronavirus in the region.

“Because we have the strong infrastructure we’re able to quickly identify, isolate and control the spread of this disease," he said.

Jahangir said contract testing is essential to continuing to limiting the spread, particularly to vulnerable populations, however he said test capabilities statewide are continuing to improve.

He also said the city no longer plans to open an auxiliary hospital at Music City Center to serve as overflow for patient care, however he said there are still plans for alternative sites should hospital capacity become overwhelmed.

The second phase will allow retail stores and restaurants to operate at 75% capacity, and hair and nail salons will reopen by appointment only.

This story is developing, check back for updates.