Bill Lee - State of the State - 2019

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State Address Monday, March 4, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Gov. Bill Lee has signed Executive Order 55 allowing contact sports to resume while extending authority to require masks.

“Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student-athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee in a statement. “We have worked directly with the TSSAA to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff, and fans safe.

“This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies. Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods.”

Contact and non-contact sports will align so no sports are prohibited by the state, just as long as safety guidelines are followed from governing bodies or Tennessee Pledge guidelines. 

The following applies to Executive Order 55:

  • Extends through August 29 Executive Order No. 54, which provides local government authority concerning face coverings
  • Strongly encourages schools to adopt a policy requiring face coverings for staff and students of appropriate age and makes clear that students, teachers, school employees or contractors, and school visitors may voluntarily wear face coverings, except as necessary to ensure school safety and security
  • Extends for 30 days (as permitted by statute) Executive Order No. 53 providing limited COVID-19-related liability protection for health care providers and hospitals
  • Aligns the treatment of contact and non-contact sports so that no sports are prohibited by the state, provided that participants follow safety guidelines from their governing bodies or Tennessee Pledge guidelines, as applicable
  • Reinstates or adds certain regulatory flexibility to cope with COVID-19, including:
  • Incorporates recently issued federal waivers regarding commercial driver licenses;
  • Waives Alcoholic Beverage Commission fees for outdoor expansion of restaurant premises due to COVID-19;
  • Directs TennCare and the Department of Health to establish and reimburse certain COVID-specific skilled nursing facilities; and
  • Allows licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselors to practice telemedicine to the same extent as other licensed health care providers during this emergency.

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WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @EthanIllers_TV!

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