CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville City Council members quickly voted Tuesday in a special called meeting to endorse County Mayor Jim Durrett’s executive order that requires all employees of businesses open to the public in Clarksville-Montgomery County to wear face masks.
The Council vote was 11 yes, with two members absent.
Gov. Bill Lee issued Executive Order #54 on Friday giving county mayors in 89 Tennessee counties authority to issue COVID-19 mask requirements.
Durrett’s Emergency Order #9, issued Monday, requires business employees to wear masks, unless social distancing can be conducted consistently. The order will be enforced on an as-needed basis.
The local mandate to wear masks will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 8 and end July 15. Emergency orders are valid for seven days and can be extended. Durrett announced in a news release that he expects to extend the order through July 22, and then evaluate whether to extend it further.
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts told the Council he supported Mayor Durrett’s order.
“Mayor Durrett is trying to slow the infection rate, which has been moving upward,” Mayor Pitts said. “We’re trying to get to the point where we can open our public schools, and we think this is a necessary step at this time.”
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, both mayors have coordinated executive orders and announcements to the community. “It is imperative we continue to work together to keep our citizens safe,” Mayor Pitts said.
Here are major provisions of Mayor Durrett’s order:
In accordance with CDC guidance, owners and employees of all public businesses are ordered to wear face coverings while conducting business. Such cloth face coverings can be created from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
Face covering is not required within one’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for hire; by a child 12 or younger; or by someone who has trouble breathing because of an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason.
Face covering is not required while eating or drinking; while outdoors, unless the person cannot substantially maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household; in situations where wearing a face covering poses a safety or security risk; or while in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship; or while in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election; but wearing a face covering in each such location is strongly encouraged.
All other persons are urged and encouraged, but not ordered, to wear face coverings in public places under these same guidelines and practice all other CDC directives.
Mayors Durrett and Pitts met Monday with Montgomery County Health Department Director Joey Smith and Director of Medical Services Jimmie Edwards to discuss mask requirements.
“Based on the data we have seen, our cases are going up at a level that is uncomfortable,” Mayor Durrett said. “We know there is a ‘lag’ in receiving testing data as more people are being tested. We must be proactive -- so our first step is to require employees of businesses open to the public to wear face coverings. We are strongly encouraging all businesses to require patrons to wear a mask when visiting their business. We do not want to issue another stay at home order. Although some may feel this is encroaching on their freedoms, it is an effort to keep our local businesses open and our residents employed, while doing it in a safe manner.
“Like many of you, I want to see our kids back in school, I want to enjoy a high school football game, a soccer game or a volleyball game. I want to see little league baseball and college football again. I want our children to have proms and graduations, skating parties and birthday parties” Durrett added. “It really boils down to the young adults and children of this community having the opportunity to grow and prosper as we did, and also protecting the population that is more vulnerable to this virus. If it takes wearing a mask for all of this to happen, then we should all sacrifice a little for the gain of many. We must all remember -- it’s not about me, it’s about we!”
Health Department Director Smith said testing numbers continue to increase, which means hundreds of people in Montgomery County are waiting for results. The data will continue to be reviewed by local leaders and health officials who will follow the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
For more, visit the Montgomery County COVID-19 portal at mcgtn.org or call 931-648-5787.