Bars, restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, fans allowed at Nissan starting October
Mayor John Cooper on Thursday announced plans to roll back restrictions on restaurants and bars, allow fans into Nissan Stadium and allow interscholastic sports to begin in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
“We’ve made significant progress in our COVID-19 response efforts but our work is far from over,” Cooper said. “We must remain vigilant if we don’t proceed with caution. Over the next days and weeks, our progress may be lost. And the decisions made today could be changes in response to those facts and as we do our very best to keep ourselves and community healthy we also have to apple the lessons we’ve learned this year.”
Restaurants and bars will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity — capped at 50 people per floor — starting this Friday. Cooper is also extending the curfew imposed on the food and beverage industry to 11 p.m.
The plans are in part attributable to a new initiative, “Honkytonk Heroes,” which Cooper said has been “instrumental in spreading good public health practices across our hospitality and tourism industry, especially among customers and businesses and our downtown core.”
“I am grateful to all the bars and restaurants that have stepped up their efforts to protect the health and safety of their patrons,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday.
Cooper also announced that Nissan Stadium will open to fans at 10 percent capacity for the Titan’s first home game against the Steelers on Oct. 4, provided the outbreak continues to subside in the region. The number of fans allowed into the stadium will increase by 2.5 percentage points each game until the end of the season with a cap at 21 percent capacity.
“While we celebrate the opening of our doors, we are laser-focused on showing Nissan Stadium guests a safe and comfortable experience while visiting our facility for Titan’s games,” Titans CEO Burke Nihill said at the briefing. “This is a plan that has been in development with key health experts since early spring. We’ve had months to prepare for this day and feel extremely confident in the safe stadium plan.”
Metro Nashville Public Schools superintendent Adrienne Battles said schools will work to resume athletic seasons beginning Friday, Sept. 26 with high school football the first to roll out. Golf, volleyball and cross country teams have already been practicing in preparation for the season, she confirmed.
“I am proud to be able to say that high school students will be able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities in person, whether they attend school in person or remain in the virtual environment,” Battles said. However, it is important to note that we will continue to expect our teams to practice all safety measures, observe social distancing, and we will comply with all guidance related to isolation and quarantining due to positive cases and close contacts, which could result in cancellation of games or seasons.”
Nashville’s Coronavirus Task Force Chairman Alex Jahangir underlined favorable reopening metrics to back up easing mitigation efforts for the first time since the city’s outbreak this summer. The county’s 14-day case trend is coasting at 100 cases per day, ICU and inpatient bed availability is steadily increasing and the positivity rate among city testing is declining — all indicating the spread of COVID-19 continues to abate. For the most recent information on COVID-19 in Nashville and across the state, click here.
City officials said if these trends continue, the city could step into phase three of reopening by Oct. 1.
“I know some people believe we are moving too fast, and some people believe we are moving too slowly,” Jahangir said. “These steps strike the proper balance.”