NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has announced new social gathering restrictions while still refusing to implement a mask mandate despite pleas from front-line healthcare workers in a state experiencing the highest new cases per capita in the country.
Instead of a mask mandate, the Republican on Sunday signed an executive order limiting public gatherings to 10 people. However, places of worship, weddings and funerals are exempt from the order.
He called the state “ground zero” in the COVID-19 battle and urged Tennesseans not to gather with people outside their immediate households during the upcoming holidays. His message comes just a day after Lee confirmed that his wife Maria had tested positive for COVID-19. Lee says he has tested negative but will remain in quarantine at the governor’s residence.
Tennessee is one of a dozen states without a mask mandate. Instead, local counties have the option of implementing their own mask restrictions.
Lee was originally scheduled to take reporter questions after his statewide address, but his office later postponed that until Monday without giving a reason why.