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Gov. Lee signs order allowing contact sports; extends authority for local mask rules

The order allows contact sports to resume if they follow safety guidelines and gives local governments the authority to determine mask requirements.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 55 Friday, which allowed contact sports to resume as long as they follow safety guidelines. 

It also extended Executive Order 54, which gave local governments the authority to issue mask requirements.

With the new order, the way state officials treats contact and non-contacts are aligned so that no sports are prohibited by the state.

“Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student-athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee. “We have worked directly with the TSSAA to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff, and fans safe. "

Local governments will be able to continue deciding whether to require masks through Aug. 29. The new order also encourages schools to adopt a policy requiring face coverings for staff and students who are able to wear them. It also encourages schools to tell visitors they can wear masks, to ensure school safety.

“This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies. Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods,” Lee said.

Knox County Schools had put contact sports on hold initially, but said Friday practice could begin after the governor issued the new order.