To limit the spread of COVID-19, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Monday issued an executive order telling state residents to stay home unless they are engaging in essential activities.
According to the order, businesses or organizations that do not perform essential services cannot remain open for public access. Lee’s order encourages those businesses to provide delivery, including curbside delivery, to the greatest extent possible. Lee also ordered that Tennesseans limit their essential activity to the greatest extent possible.
State officials will enforce the order from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, Central Standard Time, until 11:59 p.m. Central Time April 14, according to the order.
“More than half of our state is under some form of shelter-at-home orders, especially in our population-dense cities, but I have a particular concern about this situation escalating in our rural communities,” Lee said at a press conference Monday.
Lee also said this is not a mandated shelter-in place-order and that it restricts businesses such as barber shops, salons, and entertainment outfits. Lee said we “must protect our economy while we protect the lives of Tennesseans.”
“It is deeply important to me that we remain a state that protects personal liberties, but it is a strong urging for Tennesseans to stay home when at all possible. I also believe that with personal liberty comes personal responsibility. I have said that I have sought discernment to identify the right decision at the right time for the right place.”
Lee then appealed directly to Tennesseans who can remain home for the next two weeks. He urged them to stay where they reside and to also restrain their activities.
“We need you to do this, to protect the lives of your neighbors and protect the lives of Tennesseans, to protect the well-being of our health care workers and our essential employees and vulnerable populations like the elderly in Tennessee. We need you to stay home when at all possible. Your habits and your routines will make all the difference as we work to swiftly defeat COVID-19,” Lee said.
“We will work together to establish new habits, like safely supporting Tennessee businesses, ordering takeout, or shopping online or shopping for essentials at the grocery (store) in normal quantities and resisting the urge to panic buy. The faster we blunt the surge of this spread the faster we all get to go back to work.”
During the press conference, Lee stood alongside Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Republican Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).
In a statement, McNally said Lee “has been deliberate and careful in his approach.”
“This threat changes from day-to-day, hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute. I appreciate Governor Lee’s ability to remain data-focused and flexible. Today’s order is a big step but a needed one at this time,” McNally said.
“Most population centers in our state are already operating under these conditions. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. The most important part of this order is that it sends the message the governor has been sending for many days now in no uncertain terms: stay home and stay apart.”
At the press conference, Lee also asked that the state’s businesses and entrepreneurs “switch production to make lifesaving PPE and medical supplies.”
“We are calling on businesses and entrepreneurs to be part of innovating in the field of health care management as we rapidly scale operations to care for the sick,” Lee said.
Read Executive Order 22:
– – –