Governor Bill Lee issues statewide safer-at-home order

By Sherman Greer
March 30, 2020

Citing “the speed by which the virus (COVID-19) is moving,” Governor Bill Lee on Monday issued Executive Order 22, implementing statewide safer at home guidelines in effect until April 14, 2020. 

The order, applicable to businesses deemed as non-essential (barber shops, salons, and recreational and entertainment establishments) mandates the closure of businesses rather than directs the movement of individuals.  The Governor noted that, “the change in the number of affected counties, the change in the number of hospital beds, and concerns about the economies of our rural counties” were factors that led to him issuing the guidance. 

As of 2:00 p.m. today, 77 of Tennessee’s 95 counties had at least one case of coronavirus.  Lee described the rapidly increasing data points as “serious and concerning.”

The mayors of Tennessee’s major population centers all declared state of emergencies over the past two weeks, meaning Lee’s order would change little in the state’s larger communities. Rather, the governor’s action today is intended to focus on rural communities.  “The speed by which the virus is moving into rural counties is concerning,” said Lee, who hopes the measure will aid in drastically slowing the spread of the virus and thereby lessening the strain on hospitals across the state.

Lee also stressed that the executive order is not a mandatory shelter-in-place order, but strongly urged Tennesseans to take personal responsibility and to stay home, whenever possible.

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