NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The state of Tennessee is lifting more restrictions starting on Friday.
Starting on Friday, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order 38 to allow groups of 50 people to participate in social and recreational activities. However, Lee said he is still is "encouraging strong social distancing measures."
"We can lift restrictions and open up our economy with social distancing. Remember that as we go out - part of the way we can do this and address it safely," Lee said on Thursday at his weekly news conference.
This order applies to the 89 counties without a locally run county health department.
The order does the following items:
- Permits more Tennesseans and businesses to return to work in all industries where that can be safely accomplished by following health guidelines and maintaining social distancing from persons outside of your household, while continuing to urge employers to allow or require remote work/telework if possible.
- Requirements with respect to social and recreational gatherings, such as festivals, fairs, parades, large parties or picnics, noncontact sporting events and activities, summer camps, and other types of social or recreational gatherings, are clarified to focus on the importance of social distancing from persons outside your household and avoiding social/recreational groups of 50 or more persons, consistent with recent conversations and input from counties across the state, including the six locally run county health departments with independent orders or plans in place.
- Nursing homes and similar retirement and long-term-care facilities must remain closed to visitors, unless in the discretion of the facility the visit involves critical assistance for the resident or is to a resident receiving end-of-life care, provided that such a visit may be accomplished without unreasonable risk. These facilities must also ensure that residents with disabilities are afforded necessary visitation by service providers and other persons.
- Administrators of nursing homes and similar retirement and long-term-care facilities are strongly encouraged to provide COVID-19 testing to all residents and staff or take substantial steps toward completing such testing by May 31, 2020. Financial and operational support for such testing is available from the Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee National Guard.
- Senior centers or equivalent facilities remain closed to members or the public.
- Attractions and larger venues may reopen, but should follow the Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge), including with respect to social distancing and capacity limits
- Bars may reopen, but may only serve customers seated at appropriately spaced tables and must follow the Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge) for restaurants.
- Tennesseans are urged to continue limiting activity and staying home as much as possible to preserve and build on the health progress we’ve made.
- All employers and businesses that choose to open are expected to comply with the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group Guidelines for operating safely, as well as general health guidelines from the CDC and other government entities.
- Persons and businesses are urged to take special care to protect and provide for the well-being of vulnerable populations, including by offering delivery or special shopping hours if possible.
- Persons with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms are required to stay at home, and employers may not require or allow employees with COVID-19 to work.
- Persons are urged to wear a cloth face covering in places where in close proximity to others, especially where social distancing is difficult.
- Take-out and delivery alcohol sales by restaurants and limited-service restaurants will continue to be permitted to encourage customers to utilize take-out or delivery options.
The order does not apply to places of worship, but the governor said in the order that he "strongly encourages places of worship to continue virtual or online services where possible."
The order does not apply to weddings, funerals, and related events, but the governor encouraged postponement of large-gathering components of such events.
While order allows non-contact sporting events and activities and summer camps that are following state guidance, it states "contact sporting events and activities, where there is a requirement or substantial likelihood of routine close contact and adequate social distancing is not feasible, are prohibited."
The governor is asking companies to take the Tennessee Pledge and by doing that they are pledging to enforce hand-washing and the wearing of protective masks when appropriate.
The governor said Tennessee has already tested 2.5% of the state’s population. That percentage is higher than the White House’s criteria of 2 percent and Lee said the state is on track to reach 3% by the end of May.
From May 1 – May 20, Lee said Tennessee is currently conducting, on average, upwards of 8,700 tests per day.
To read the executive order, click here.