Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Friday giving mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue mask requirements.
Six counties with locally run health departments — Sullivan, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Madison and Shelby — will retain their existing authority to issue mask requirements as needed, the governor tweeted Friday.
The new executive order allows local governments to issue the mandates if a surge requires more preventative measures being taken to slow the spread of the virus.
“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” Lee said in a statement. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee. We encourage every Tennessean across the state to use a face covering or mask, make sure to socially distance and wash hands frequently.”