United StatesTennessee

Lee signs executive order allowing contact sports, extending local authority to mandate masks

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee answers questions during a news conference Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

(The Center Square) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order that permits contact and noncontact sports in the state, extends the authority of local governments to mandate face coverings, and extends liability protections for health care providers.

No sports are now prohibited in Tennessee, as long as participants follow safety guidelines from their governing bodies or Tennessee Pledge COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student-athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” Lee said in a statement Friday. “We have worked directly with the [Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association] to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff, and fans safe.”

A previous executive order that allowed local governments to mandate masks would have expired Monday. The new order extends that power through Aug. 29.

“This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies,” Lee said. “Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods.”

The order also strongly encourages schools in Tennessee to require staff and students to wear face coverings.

Liability protections granted for health care providers in a previous executive order are also extended through the end of the month.

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