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A woman arrives for her first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Friday, March 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. As millions continue to wait their turn for the COVID-19 vaccine, small but steady amounts of the precious doses have gone to waste across the country. It's a heartbreaking reality that experts acknowledged was always likely to occur. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville's top health officials on Friday tweaked the city's mask mandate to exclude requiring face coverings in outdoor spaces.

According to the city's latest public health order, masks will be still required for indoor spaces. However, people will no longer have to wear masks in outdoor public areas. The department still "strongly recommends" mask-wearing when social distancing isn't possible.

A mask mandate has been in place in Nashville since last June.

The move comes as health officials have praised Nashville's efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly 31% of Nashville's residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 18% of its residents have been fully vaccinated.

"We're still not there — I don't believe — indoors, but outdoors, we today have actually loosened those restrictions," said Dr. Alex Jahangir, chief of Nashville's COVID-19 task force, to WSMV-TV during a Thursday interview where he broke the news of the mask mandate change.

"As we continue vaccinating more people and we get back to life as we knew it before, that also requires getting rid of masks," Jahangir added. "That may be one of the last things we do."

Across the state, officials have slowly begun lifting mask mandates, including Sumner County — which expired Friday.

In Shelby County, the state's most populated county and location of the city of Memphis, a mask mandate remains in place for both indoor and outdoor spaces when social distancing is not possible.

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