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VOL. 45 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 26, 2021

Tennessee lifts restrictions on nursing home visits

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's Department of Health announced that it will soon lift its state-specific visitation restrictions for long-term care facilities.

Nursing homes and other facilities should use the federal guidance provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services starting Feb. 28, health officials said in a news release Wednesday.

The agency says all of Tennessee's nursing homes and skilled nursing home facilities have finished giving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations, and the state's assisted care living facilities and residential homes for the aged are expected to be fully immunized by the end of the week.

"Now that vaccinations at all long-term care facilities are nearing completion, we are ready to transition to a more sustainable approach of following these best practices for safe operation of long-term care facilities in Tennessee," Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor John Cooper cited the drop in cases Thursday as he moved to ease restrictions starting Monday, with social distancing and mask-wearing requirements remaining in place.

Bars and restaurants serving alcohol can stay open until 1 a.m., with up to 125 people per floor and an increase in bar counter seating, he said.

City-approved events can increase from 500 to 1,000 people, with weddings increasing from 75 people to 125 people maximum, Cooper said. Event venues can remain open until 1 a.m.

The outdoor gathering size limit will increase from eight to 25 people. Museums, zoos and other attractions can increase capacity to a level that just maintains social distancing, Cooper said.

Additionally, the city announced plans to allow the Southeastern Conference college basketball tournament, which begins March 10, to allow 20% of seating capacity at Bridgestone Arena, or 3,400 people. SEC officials said the teams will be provided a very limited number of tickets for sale to their fan bases.

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