NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Beginning March 1, Nashville bars and restaurants can increase capacity and stay open until 1 a.m. as the city continues its reopening plan amid the pandemic.
Mayor John Cooper announced the update during Thursday’s weekly COVID briefing, saying Metro adjusted its public health protocols based on "improving conditions."
This morning marked the 100th COVID press conference for Mayor Cooper who says the COVID transmission rate in Metro Nashville is part of what made the difference. The 0.75 transmission rate is the lowest it's been since when Metro first began recording these figures.
Based on our improving COVID numbers and increasing vaccinations, @NashvilleHealth is announcing the following changes starting Monday, March 1st.— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) February 25, 2021
Outdoor gathering size limit increases from 8 to 25 people. (1/4)
Cooper said restaurants and bars can increase their capacity from 75 to 125 people per floor.
Cooper also said that maximum attendance for live events can increase from 500 to 1,000 people, pending approval from Metro. He said wedding capacity can increase from 75 to 125 people and outdoor gatherings can increase from eight to 25 people.
Raina van Setter is a wedding planner and says one of her favorite destinations is the Noah Liff Opera Center in Nashville. The building is quieter these days, but she says this is what people now expect in Davidson County. At least for the moment.
Van Setter says by now we all understand what's expected to make these events safe, so having more than 125 people shouldn't be an issue.
Van Setter says because couples typically plan their weddings at least one year in advance, many have to rely on the current COVID restrictions to choose where the wedding should be.
The longer it takes to return capacity closer to the average wedding of 200 people, she says the less likely it is these weddings return to Davidson County.
For now, Van Setter says most couples are leaving for the surrounding counties where there are fewer restrictions.
"Not only do people want to see you get married here, but they also want to see Nashville. So by raising that headcount you are bringing in funds from tourism to these venues, to small businesses. You're really going to be revitalizing the city," said Van Setter.
Additionally, Nashville museums and attractions, like the Nashville Zoo, can now increase capacity to a "level that just maintains social distancing," according to Mayor Cooper.
Metro also said it would begin vaccinating residents ages 65 and older on Friday. Residents who would like to make an appointment for a vaccine can visit Nashville's COVID-19 website or call 615-862-7777.
Watch Metro's full briefing below:
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This story was first published by Levi Ismail and Laken Bowles at WTVF.