NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Department of Health’s order to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County went into effect Monday.

Public Health Order 8 took effect on Monday, June 29 at 12:01 a.m.

The order comes when Nashville and Tennessee are seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.

If you are outdoors or indoors, you have to wear a mask or face coverings but there are some exceptions —for example, if you are six feet apart from others, you don’t have to wear it.

Other exceptions include children 12 and younger, outdoor activities like walking, biking or running, traveling in a car, inside schools if it is in compliance with the conditions in Nashville’s returning to school plan, eating or drinking in public, places of worship or if a person cannot medically tolerate a mask.

The Metro Board of Health held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon and the motion passed unanimously. Board members say their goal is to continue protecting the public.

“So I think that we see that this is based on the science that we see this is keeping the pandemic a bit more under control in Asia and in Europe and I think, short of shutting the economy down again, this is the only tool we have and I think that we all like to see the economy functioning and I have to believe that wearing a face mask is a small price to pay for that,” explained David A. Frederick with the Metro Board of Health.

Board members agreed they did not want the mandate to be punitive, and that the goal was to continue protecting the public by the continued embracing of social distancing and the changing of behaviors.

“Our department has done such a great job working so hard on enforcing so many things. It’s perhaps, you know, we ask our colleagues and employees in other places who are going around and seeing things also have warnings and recognizing that this is a whole community and as I mentioned previously in other forums, everyone is responsible for our community,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir with Metro’s coronavirus task force.

Anyone found in violation of the order can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor, but that does not go into effect until after July 3.  Under Tennessee’s laws, class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both. Public intoxication is an example of a class C misdemeanor