Visiting Nashville Amid COVID-19 Recovery

Nashville loves visitors so COVID-19 has hit us hard. But we’re back on our feet and rolling out the welcome mat. Read on for current information on what’s open for business and what restrictions apply. 

As of July 2, 2020, local government is mandating the wearing of face masks in public due to the dramatic rise in confirmed cases. There are details to be worked out (eating in restaurants, what is considered a public place and such) but be aware that not wearing one is a violation of the law. And remember: if you’re a carrier with no symptoms, wearing a mask lessens the chances of unwittingly infecting loved ones.

NOTE: Ages 25-34 now make up the largest percentage of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Tennessee rules vs. Nashville rules

Yes, they’re different. Our governor has relaxed rules in the 89 counties that don’t have their own public health departments. The five others, including Nashville/Davidson County, are setting their own, more conservative COVID standards based on available data. Individual businesses may have their own guidelines in place.

How it plays out

Tennessee currently allows 100% occupancy in restaurants, although face masks and social distancing practices are recommended. Entertainment venues such as music venues, amusement parks, clubs, theatres, waterparks, racetracks and auditoriums are free to reopen (but some may choose to delay their openings). Social distancing practices will remain in place. In the event of a strong resurgence of COVID infections, the state will tighten restrictions.

Nashville has established a four-phase process of reopening. We were in Phase 3 but, due to the rise of COVID infections and hospitalizations, we’ve reverted to Phase 2 and we were in Phase 3 but, as established weeks ago, government officials have made the painful decision to reinstate precautions to reduce infections. It’s smart to check in advance with hotels, restaurants and other places you’d like to visit to make sure they’re open.

Social distancing at Tailgate
Mask off for eating and drinking. Mask on otherwise in public places.

Nashville’s Four-Phase Plan

Phase 1

Phase 2 will be reinstated July 3

We’d moved to Phase 3 but due to a steady rise in infections and hospitalizations, we’ve moved back to Phase 2. Details:

  • Restaurants operate at 1/2 capacity. Bars closed. Restaurant/bar combinations are allowed to continue operating.
  • Live entertainment permitted. Dance floors closed.
  • Retail stores open at 3/4 capacity.
  • Residents must wear masks when in public.
  • No gatherings over 25 people.

Phase 3
To be reviewed for a July 15 annoucement

  • 75% capacity for restaurants and retail establishments with employees wearing masks. (Originally planned to be 100%.)
  • Bars open at 50% capacity.  
  • Groups limited to parties of 6.
  • Live music permitted. Bands are back in bars; tour buses are on the roads and music venues with capacities of up to 250 are open.
  • Museums can reopen at 50% occupancy with special restrictions in place. Not all have chosen to reopen. The Johnny Cash Museum and Patsy Cline Museum are welcoming visitors and the gardens at Cheekwood have reopened. The Nashville Zoo reopens to the general public on June 18 with some areas closed; advance reservations are required, masks are required for ages 4+ and payment must be made with a credit card (no cash). Audiences will be admitted to Grand Ole Opry performances again on July 1. The Country Music Hall of Fame is also aiming to open July 1. Confirm that the attractions you want to visit are open.
  • Tours have begun. Some small venues including 3rd & Lindsley have reopened. The Bluebird Cafe’ calendar shows its first performance on July 22.
  • For specific guidelines, check out this story in the Tennessean.

TIP: Many of the honky tonks/restaurants on or near Lower Broadway have patios or rooftop decks allowing you to get fresh air while dining.

Here’s my guide to every honky tonk on Lower Broadway.

Phase 4
Undetermined at this point.

  • Face masks are recommended but not required.
  • Bars open at full capacity.
  • Private gatherings of over 25 people allowed.
  • Sports venues reopen.

What can you expect in Nashville?

The Downtown Partnership frequently updates information on specific businesses.

Now on to more upbeat topics:

» Off-Broadway honky tonks
» Outdoor fun
» 30+ activities for families


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