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Mayor urges caution amid reopening
Newman, Ben 2016CMYK.jpg
Ben Newman

McMinnville Mayor Ben Newman is urging local business owners to act responsibly when they reopen. 

“My hope is that businesses follow the reopening guidelines recommended by Gov. Bill Lee,” said Newman. “Our COVID-19 numbers are low and acting responsibly is paramount in keeping those numbers low.” 

On Friday, Lee released guidelines on how restaurants and retail stores across the state should reopen beginning this Monday. However, the governor acknowledged the state will not enforce those guidelines. 

Instead, Gov. Lee encouraged businesses to follow what he dubbed the Tennessee Pledge in which businesses operate with the utmost concern for the health of their employees and customers. Both restaurants and retail stores are urged to keep capacity at 50 percent when they reopen.

Mayor Newman said governments in Warren County do not have the authority to mandate reopening strategies.

“Counties like Davidson – the ones that operate their own health departments – can set their own reopening strategies,” said Newman. “I wish we could do that, but we cannot. We are among the 89 counties that cannot mandate their own reopening strategies. Because of that, I’m urging people to act responsibly and follow the governor’s guidelines.”

Warren County Health Department is state-run. Davidson, Shelby, Madison, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties operate their own health departments.

People are also being urged to continue the practice of social distancing, which has been effective in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“Our COVID-19 numbers have been relatively low,” said Newman. “That’s because most people – not all, but most – have been adhering to the governor’s urging, which later became a mandate. I hope that continues. The need to continue practicing social distancing is still there. We may not be under a mandate after this month, but people continuing to act responsibly is important to their health until this actually passes.”

At this time, the children’s play areas and pavilions within city-owned parks are closed. Greenways, walking trails, boat docks and fishing piers are open. All city recreation programs are closed, including Park Theater.

Newman said no determination has been made to reopen city government and its amenities. The McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets this Tuesday night and reopening will be a topic of discussion.

 “We’ll likely generate a reopening strategy. Hopefully, a gradual reopening,” said Newman.

The city board meeting will be an online video conference.