This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, April 27, 2020, with more information.
After a weekend "power struggle" between the city and state which resulted in Chattanooga restaurants being allowed to reopen Monday, Mayor Andy Berke will reopen some businesses and public spaces this week.
Parks and public spaces as well as dog groomers, car washes and other businesses will be allowed to reopen in Chattanooga on Friday, according to Berke.
At a news conference Monday, Berke said that he will sign an executive order allowing golf courses, drive-thru car washes, pet groomers, parks, trails and other public spaces to reopen after closing them in a previous executive order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The order comes as part of Berke's original reopening strategy that was uprooted by a Friday executive order in which Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee gave the authority to county health departments in the state's six largest counties — rather than leaving the power with cities.
While he says the governor had told him publicly and privately that he would have the authority to reopen Chattanooga businesses at his own pace — which he estimates would have taken weeks — Berke's priority has become keeping those businesses which are reopened safe.
"I understood that we were going to have local control. We don't. That's the situation that we were going to deal with," Berke said Monday. "There are more important issues at play than a power struggle between me and anyone else."
When asked if there was any explanation from the governor's office about why the decision was made to remove Berke's authority, the mayor simply said, "not to me."
Berke said that patrons of any businesses or public spaces need to be cautious of the virus, encouraging them to wear masks, stay six feet away from one another and only go to establishments that are following best practices and only if necessary.
As of Monday afternoon, it is unclear whether Chattanooga retailers previously closed by Berke will be allowed to reopen under the governor's order, similar to what happened with restaurants.
Berke says he is expecting future action by the governor to include similar language, superseding the mayor's city orders, but a spokesman for the governor said over the weekend that "based upon the executive order, this just pertains to restaurants."
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.