Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper issues 14-day order to residents to stay at home

Mayor John Cooper is calling on bars on Lower Broadway to close until further notice. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)
Mayor John Cooper is calling on bars on Lower Broadway to close until further notice. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)

Mayor John Cooper is calling on bars on Lower Broadway to close until further notice. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)

Updated, March 22 10:45 a.m.

Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a 14-day "safer at home" order to help limit the spread of coronavirus in the region. The order, which goes into effect at midnight tonight, calls for all non-essential businesses to close and prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people. All individuals in Davidson County are expected to stay home, except for going out for essential needs. Residents can continue to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, medical appointments and restaurants for take-out. Restaurants and bars can continue take-out and delivery services only. Individuals can also continue to go outside, but are recommended to keep at least six feet away from others.

"This formalizes what many residents and businesses are already doing on their own," Cooper said in a statement. "It is a difficult decision, especially because of the impact it will have on our businesses, but it is necessary to protect the health and safety of our family, friends and neighbors. The faster we contain COVID-19, the faster we can return to business. We’re in this together. Thank you for your cooperation."

Updated, March 20 10:00 a.m.: Restaurants in Metro Nashville to suspend all dine-in services, offer to-go orders only

Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper has called for restaurants in the city to close dine-in services to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the region. Businesses can still offer take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup and delivery services, but diners must leave with their food and can not eat on premises, according to a March 20 announcement from the mayor's office.


Additionally, gyms in the county are also being ordered to close by Metro Nashville Public Health Director Dr. Michael Caldwell.

As of 10 a.m. on March 20, at least 110 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Metro Nashville. Statewide numbers will be updated by the Tennessee Department of Health at 2 p.m.

Churches in the region are also being urged to suspend holding in-person services until further notice.

Updated, March 16 2:45 p.m.: Metro Nashville Director of Health working to enforce restrictions on city's restaurants and bars

Following the Metro Nashville Board of Public Health’s March 15 vote to declare a public health emergency in Davidson County—an order that gives Metro Nashville Director of Health Dr. Michael Caldwell the authority to take certain actions to protect the city from the spread of coronavirus—Caldwell gave an update at a March 16 press conference on his authorization to shut down all bars in Davidson County and limit restaurant capacity.

According to the declaration, all bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County must close their businesses until further notice. Restaurants must limit their seating to less than 50% of capacity and no more than 100 individuals will be allowed.

At the press conference, Caldwell said he is in the process of drafting orders to ensure all bars and restaurants have the information needed to follow the guidelines.

“I am drafting orders to make sure that is done and the information is transmitted to them directly,” Caldwell said. “If [business owners] have any specific questions, we will continue to work with them one on one ... We are going to find that most are already voluntarily complying. For those that are not, we will take appropriate action, as we always do, for any permitted facility that may not be following public health rules and regulations.”

Updated, March 15 5:30 p.m.: Metro Nashville officials declare public health emergency

The Metro Nashville Board of Public Health has voted March 15 to approve the declaration of a public health emergency in Davidson County.

The declaration gives Metro Nashville Director of Health Dr. Michael Caldwell the ability take "any action that would be necessary to address this public health emergency."

This declaration comes after Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced bars and restaurants in Davidson will undergo restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the county.

Additional information is expected to be announced in a press conference tomorrow, March 16.

Original post, March 15 2:47 p.m.: BREAKING: Mayor John Cooper calls for Nashville restaurants to limit to 50% capacity, bars on Lower Broadway and countywide to close until further notice

In response to the announcement of more than three dozen cases of coronavirus confirmed March 15 in Tennessee, Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper has announced new business limitations to prevent further spread of the virus.

The mayor's office will hold an emergency meeting of the Metro Nashville Board of Health at 5 p.m. March 15 to take action to declare a public health emergency, according to an announcement from the mayor's office. In advance of that meeting, Cooper has announced the following short-term restrictions for local restaurants and bars in the county that will go into effect immediately:


  1. Bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County will close their businesses until further notice;



  2. Restaurants—public facilities where the sale of food comprises more than 50 percent of revenue—will limit their regular maximum seating to under 50 percent of capacity and no more than 100 individuals will be allowed.



  3. Bar service at restaurants should be limited to 50 percent of capacity with no standing allowed.


“We understand these changes create a hardship, especially for businesses and their employees, and we hope it will be short lived," Cooper said in a statement. "As a priority, Metro government will be focused on how to provide relief for local workers and address the inevitable hardship that these social distancing measures will have on local businesses. We are gathering information from state and federal officials on aid for businesses and workers. We will continue to communicate regularly and follow the recommendations of the board of health as this emergency evolves.”

According to the announcement, the measures are consistent with other actions being taken in large cities across the country, such as in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and New Orleans.

“We also are asking restaurants to take social distancing precautions, including the spacing out of tables for customers," Cooper said. "We are encouraging restaurants to remain open as both a measure of social wellbeing and because of their important role in helping to feed our community. We appreciate the businesses, churches, schools, sporting event organizers, and all other organizations that have closed or taken actions on social distancing."

Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., issued a statement shortly after the announcement.

"We are in full support of the decision of the mayor and Metro Nashville Board of Health regarding bars and restaurants," Spyridon said. "Any short-term mitigation to slow the spread of this virus is invaluable to our long-term recovery and more importantly the health and safety of our community. We understand the hardship this may cause the thousands of frontline employees and hundreds of businesses, and we are working with local state and federal officials in an effort to provide direct relief as soon as possible."

This story is developing, check back for updates.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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