WHEREAS, Hamilton County is currently experiencing the effects of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and
WHEREAS, Hamilton County is empowered to protect the health and lives of Hamilton County citizens, and
WHEREAS, Hamilton County began reopening businesses over five months ago requesting and expecting voluntary compliance with appropriate non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as wearing facial coverings, maintaining social distancing and personal hygiene as recommended by the CDC and required for safely opening those businesses, and
WHEREAS, such voluntary recommendations were not adequate to slow the spread of COVID-19, and
WHEREAS, protecting the economy of Hamilton County is also essential to the health of our citizens, and any provisions to protect both our county's health and economy are important to consider, and
WHEREAS, simple measures enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will greatly help to prevent more stringent measures such as stay at home orders and closure of businesses, and
WHEREAS, CDC recommends all persons 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around persons outside their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected, and
WHEREAS, there is clear clinical and scientific evidence that masks or cloth facial coverings which cover the mouth and nose, along with social distancing and proper hygiene can decrease the spread of COVID-19, and
WHEREAS, there has been evidence of decrease in the average number of new cases and hospitalizations since Health Directive No. 1 was put into effect on July 10, 2020, and continued efforts are needed to maintain this decrease.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Dr. Paul M. Hendricks, MD, Hamilton County Health Officer, pursuant to the laws of the State of Tennessee, do hereby issue the following Health Directive No.3:
1. Effective at 12:01 a.m. on October 9, 2020, all persons in Hamilton County shall wear a facial covering or mask which covers the mouth and nose at all times when indoors in all public and private buildings and when outdoors except under the following exceptions:
2. Face coverings are not required for:
a. Children under 12 years of age, but all children over the age of 2 are encouraged to do so as the CDC recommends.
b. Anyone with documented medical contraindications to facial covers such as active asthma or COPD.
c. Anyone who is acutely short of breath or incapacitated such that they would be unable to remove the covering on their own.
d. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing - or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired if they rely on lip reading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear face covering. If a clear face covering is not available, consider whether you can use written communication, use closed captioning or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a cloth face covering that blocks your lips.
e. Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities, who may have challenges wearing a cloth face covering. Those persons are encouraged to consult with their healthcare provider for advice about wearing cloth face coverings.
f. Persons attending a religious service or religious ceremony unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged.
g. Persons who are outdoors and can maintain a minimum of six (6) feet distance from others not a member of the person's household except for brief periods of time of less than 15 minutes. Facial coverings should, however, be kept accessible in the event of encountering a larger group.
h. Up to two (2) persons who are not household members in cars, trucks, or other private or commercial vehicles. However, all occupants in vehicles transporting more than two (2) persons who are not household members shall wear facial coverings.
i. Persons working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person's household can be maintained. A facial covering should be kept accessible in the event that others enter the area.
J. Office workers and any other employee working alone in an area (such as a private office) where the public or other workers are not present or do not usually enter. A facial covering should be kept accessible in the event others enter that area.
k. Persons who are exercising, such as jogging, bicycling, or swimming, etc, either alone or in small groups where physical distancing of 6 feet or greater can be maintained. A facial covering should be kept accessible in the event of encountering a larger group.
I. Private residences are exempt, but hallways, elevators and other common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums and other medium or high density residential structures are not exempt. All gatherings in private residencies with non-household members are strongly encouraged to follow recommended social distancing and mask wearing guidelines.
m. Persons seated for the purpose of dining in any restaurant or business that provides food and/or drink for on premises consumption.
3. Facial coverings shall fit snugly and securely against the side of the face. Cloth facial coverings are preferred and should include multiple layers of fabric. Surgical and other medical masks (e.g. N95) are not required and should be preserved for healthcare personnel.
4. Businesses shall not allow anyone to enter or remain in their establishment unless they are wearing a facial covering and no business shall serve anyone without a facial cover unless seated and eating or drinking consumables served by the establishment or unless that person expressly notifies the business that they have an aforementioned exemption.
5. Any business failing to enforce this Directive or person refusing to leave an establishment when requested due to no facial covering will be subject to civil citations for their violation of this Directive as well as criminal sanctions.
6. All businesses shall post signage in a place visible to those entering to remind customers of this requirement. Sample wording will be provided in digital format by the Hamilton County Health Department.
7. Wedding and funeral religious services held on private property are exempt from the requirement, but highly encouraged to abide by appropriate public health measures such as masks, social distancing and recommended personal hygiene. Routine business activities and non-religious portions of funerals and weddings, such as receptions and viewings shall not be exempt.
8. Voting sites for the purpose of voting or administering an election are exempt but encouraged to abide by appropriate public health measures such as masks, social distancing and recommended personal hygiene.
9. Properties belonging to and under the jurisdiction of the Hamilton County Department of Education and properties belonging to private schools will be exempt and allowed to follow their own policies, but are strongly encouraged to incorporate facial covers, social distancing and enhanced hygiene consistent with CDC and state guidelines.
10. Violations of this Directive by businesses and/or individuals shall be punishable by citation issued by the Hamilton County Health Department and/or criminally by local law enforcement as a Class C misdemeanor.
11. In all cases where individual exemptions from this ordinance are allowed, businesses and organizations may require other conditions such as those that would enhance social distancing and diminish risks to other patrons.
12. This Directive shall remain in effect until 11:59pm, Sunday, November 22nd, 2020.
DECLARED this 6th day of October, 2020
Paul M. Hendricks, MD.
Hamilton County, Tennessee Department of Health
Hamilton County, Tennessee Department of Health
DIRECTIVE NO. 3 OF THE HAMILTON COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 8, 2020, is available to download and print Here.