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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Mayor Tim Kelly waves as he approaches City Hall after the One Chattanooga inauguration ceremony at the Tivoli Theatre on Monday, April 19, 2021, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Tim Kelly was sworn in as the 66th mayor of Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly signed his first executive order Friday, tweaking previous COVID-19 protocols in the city.

Kelly's order replaces all of former Mayor Andy Berke's previous pandemic restrictions, loosening rules on small gatherings, public spaces and certain local venues, while encouraging continued compliance with federal, state and county health guidance.

Chief of Staff Brent Goldberg said Friday that the changes were necessary to meet the current status of the pandemic.

"We evaluated the executive order that was in place, and we are making the changes we feel are appropriate to better reflect the evolving nature of the pandemic," Goldberg said in a written statement.

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Revised COVID-19 orders

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Key changes in Kelly's order compared to Berke's include:

> Removing the statement encouraging individuals to stay at home.

> Removing the limitation of 10 or fewer people allowed in social and recreational gatherings. Language was added to reinforce Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as Gov. Bill Lee's executive order and the county health officer's directive.

> Removing the limitation on gatherings of 10 or fewer people in city parks, playgrounds, trails, Walnut Street Bridge and other public spaces. Instead, Kelly's order encourages maintaining 6 feet of distance between people in those situations.

> Removing language that referred to the Tivoli Theatre, Memorial Auditorium and Bessie Smith Cultural Center, which are each managed by independent boards. According to a spokesman for the city, the previous executive order stated that they were following their own health and safety guidelines and did not prescribe any specific limitations or guidelines from the city.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.comor 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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