Nashville Mayor John Cooper lays out city's phased reopening plan

Mayor John Cooper has announced the city's four-phase economic reopening plan. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)
Mayor John Cooper has announced the city's four-phase economic reopening plan. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)

Mayor John Cooper has announced the city's four-phase economic reopening plan. (Courtesy Jake Matthews/Visit Music City)

Metro Nashville John Cooper and city health officials announced April 23 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.

According to Cooper, it is possible the city could begin reopening its economy in phases beginning in early May. The first phase would allow commercial businesses, including restaurants and retail stores, to operate at half capacity, while bars, hair salons, gyms and entertainment venues would remain closed.

"Each of the four phases in this public health framework contains clear metrics to determine when certain parts of our economy will reopen, including triggers that could require us all to revert to an earlier phase of the plan to protect our community and ensures that our area health providers do not become overwhelmed by a spike in in COVID-19 cases," Cooper said during the press conference. "Every Nashvillian feels an urge to return to business as normal. Many livelihoods depend on it. But business owners, employees and customers alike should trust that places of business ... throughout Nashville are safe."

The city's strategy to allow nonessential businesses to begin reopening is contingent on three factors: a rate of transmission of less than one, meaning each COVID-19 patient does not infect more than one person; a downward trend of documented cases within a 14-day period; and the amount of testing supplies and personal protective equipment the city has on hand.

If there is a rise in cases during any of the phases, the city will revert to an earlier phase or establish stricter social distancing guidelines, according to the plan.


Nashville remains under a safer-at-home order, meaning all nonessential businesses will stay closed, and restaurants and bars can only offer takeout and delivery services. While Cooper has not yet set a date for when Nashville will advance to the first reopening phase, he announced at a press conference April 21 that he will likely extend the safer-at-home order expiring April 24 through May 1 to help limit the spread of coronavirus in the region.

As of April 23, local health officials have announced 2,144 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Davidson County, an increase of 182 cases in the last 24 hours. Of the total confirmed cases, 1,076 residents have recovered from the virus.

"Having [182] cases in one day doesn't help our 14-day trend, but the great thing is we've had low numbers the past many days," said Dr. Alex Jahangir, Metro Coronavirus Task Force chairperson. "Our 14-day trend is still stable, even with [182] cases in one day. Now, if we have another 180 tomorrow [and] another 180 cases the day after, that 14-day trend becomes a problem. ... [But] right now, we're looking good."

Officials have established the following measures as part of the four-part reopening plan.

Phase 1

  • Retail stores and restaurants will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Surfaces must be frequently cleaned.

  • Residents should wear masks in public.

  • Gatherings of 10 or more people will not allowed.

  • Routine and elective procedures will be permitted for residents under 70.


Phase 2


  • Retail stores and restaurants may operate at 75% capacity. Hair and nail salons may reopen by appointment only.

  • Small gatherings will be allowed for up to 50 people.

  • Residents should keep wearing masks in public.

  • Routine and elective procedures will be permitted for all age groups.

  • Residents should work from home if possible.


Phase 3


  • Retail stores and restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity, while bars and entertainment venues may open at 50% capacity. Hair and nail salons may operate by appointment only.

  • Gyms may reopen with social distancing measures in place.

  • Gatherings of 100 or more people will be allowed.

  • Residents should work from home if possible.


Phase 4


  • Bars and entertainment venues will be allowed to operate at full capacity. Surfaces must be frequently cleaned.

  • Hair and nail salons may operate by appointment only.

  • Residents will be encouraged to wear masks in public, but it will not be required.



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