Updates

Stay up to date with a summary of new developments as they unfold. 

May 28, 2020

Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group issued new Tennessee Pledge guidelines for noncontact sports, camps, and higher education. Under Executive Order No. 38 issued May 22, noncontact sports may resume under certain precautions, including efforts to maintain social distancing, wear masks when feasible and added sanitization measures.

Previously released summer camp guidance has been expanded to address the safe reopening of overnight camps. The Economic Recovery Group recommends additional protective measures for residential camps, including thorough pre-screening measures, limited mixing of campers and staff and modified sleeping arrangements, among a number of additional efforts to protect campers and staff.

Newly released Higher Ed guidelines recommend a number of safety precautions to protect staff and students. Recommendations to Tennessee colleges and universities include establishing policies for on-campus housing, how to isolate and care for sick students and staff, limiting number of attendees for in-person classes, and other measures. This guidance was created by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in partnership with state colleges and universities and related associations and the Unified Command.

May 26, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court released an order extending the state of emergency for the Judicial Branch of Tennessee until otherwise noted. The order suspends jury trials through Friday, July 3, 2020 and outlines social distancing requirements to be put in place for trials taking place after July 3. Deadlines that are set to expire on Sunday, May 31, 2020, remain extended through Friday, June 5, 2020. The Court anticipates that there will be no further extensions of these deadlines. The moratorium on actions to effectuate an eviction, ejectment, or other displacement from a residence is lifted effective June 1, 2020. Orders of protection and temporary injunctions that would otherwise expire by Sunday, May 31, 2020 are extended through Monday, June 15, 2020. The Court anticipates that there will be no further extensions of this deadline. Courts continue to be encouraged to conduct as much business as possible by telephone, teleconferencing, email, video conferencing, or other means that do not involve in-person contact, with all of these methods being preferred over in-person court proceedings. 

May 22, 2020

Executive Order No. 38 supersedes and repeals Executive Orders No. 30, 33, and 35. Executive Order No. 38 encourages persons, businesses, and organizations to return to work while following to the greatest extent practicable the Health Guidelines and Tennessee Pledge Guidelines issued by the Governor's Economic Recovery Group. Social distancing guidelines for groups of fifty (50) or less are included in the order.  

May 20, 2020

Tennessee continues to advance the state’s reopening plan under the Tennessee Pledge, as the Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidelines today for restaurants and retail, along with new guidelines that enable attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22. The State continues to meet the White House gating criteria with a downward trend in case growth, increase in testing capability and sufficient hospital capacity.

The updated guidelines enable restaurants and retail to increase capacity as long as social distancing protocols remain in place. Restaurants should continue to space tables 6 feet apart, or install physical barriers where adequate separation isn’t possible. Bars remain closed unless used for seated, in-restaurant dining where there is 6 feet of separation between customer groups. Live music is permissible with appropriate precautions, which include maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between performers and audience in order to reduce potential exposure.

Large, non-contact attractions and venues including concert and performance venues, amusement and water parks, auditoriums, theaters and dinner theaters, zoos, large museums and more can also reopen safely under new Tennessee Pledge guidelines. Strong measures to protect employees and customers are recommended, including screening of employees and customers, creating plans for managing guest flow, and limiting capacity to ensure separation between small groups.

Full guidelines can be found on TNpledge.com for:

 Retail

Restaurant

Attractions and Large Venues

Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments.

May 15, 2020 Update

As Tennessee continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the state's Economic Recovery Group announced today that it will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail to instead focus on social distancing best practices effective May 22 and issue guidelines to facilitate the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions on or after May 22. New Tennessee Pledge guidelines will be released early next week. Six counties -- Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan -- may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments. 

The new Large Attraction guidance applies to those businesses that can effectively practice social distancing with strong measures to protect both employees and customers, including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums, and more. Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place for the time being. Updates to Restaurant Guidance will include a lift on capacity restrictions, allowing for increased service as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to, including 6 feet between tables. 

May 7, 2020 Update

Executive Order No. 35 was released, allowing for the reopening of small group, non-contact entertainment and recreational venues pursuant to new safety guidelines. These venues include bowling alleys, arcades, shooting ranges, and other venues that allow for groups of less than ten (10) people maintaining six (6) feet of separation from persons outside their own group. Concert venues, sporting event venues, racetracks, indoor children's play venues, roller and ice skating rinks, and other venues where operation is likely to result in close proximity to persons outside of one's own group are to remain closed for the time being.

May 6, 2020 Update

Tennessee's Economic Recovery Group released additional guidelines today for: Recreation, Offices, Lodging & Accommodations, Construction, and Manufacturing

From the Governor's News Announcement: Non-contact recreation businesses like bowling alleys, arcades, dance classes, water sports, golf and more will be able to reopen Friday, May 8 (see details in Executive Order to be issued on May 7). The Tennessee Pledge guidelines recommend capacity limits, spacing requirements, and frequent sanitization, among others. Larger venues and activities where social distancing is not feasible remain closed.

Governor Lee also issued Executive Order No. 34, which extends the provisions of Executive Order No. 16 to allow governing bodies in TN to meet electronically through June 30, 2020 so long as they provide electronic access to the public and transparency regarding the proceedings.

May 5, 2020 Update

Governor Lee issued Executive Order No. 33 amending Executive Order 30 to allow reopening of close contact personal services pursuant to new safety guidelines.

May 4, 2020 Update

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin a phased reopening plan on May 9.

May 1, 2020 Update

The Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives issued guidance for gathering together in Houses of Worship.

April 30, 2020 Update

Governor Bill Lee's Economic Recovery Group Releases Guidance for Close Contact Businesses for May 6 Reopen.

April 29, 2020 Update

Blount County, Tennessee – Based on the Governor’s April 29 press conference, certain close-contact businesses will be provided guidance that will allow them to open on May 6 in Blount County. The Governor indicated more information will be available from the Economic Recovery Group by the end of this week. When we receive confirmation directly from the Governor’s Office of any new information or Orders that impact citizens and/or businesses within Blount County, we will do our best to pass that information along as soon as possible.

***The information included in this Advisory is the most currently released information and subject to change as the Governor’s Orders develop.

As part of the 89 counties that follow the Governor’s “Tennessee Pledge” plan for reopening, the governments of Blount County, the cities of Maryville, Alcoa, Friendsville and Townsend, and the town of Louisville hope to educate the public on the Governor’s Orders and how they relate to our community compared to the six metro counties – including Knox. Knox County’s Plan, “A Community Strategy for Phased Reopening” can be found here: https://covid.knoxcountytn.gov/pdfs/A-Community-Strategy-for-Phased-Reopening.pdf

We must continue to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. As we know, it is a highly contagious virus and as we begin to participate in more normal activities, we also must continue to take measures to protect ourselves and others – especially those who are most vulnerable. This remains our individual responsibility to protect our families, friends, neighbors and loved ones.

As local government leaders, we are concerned about the confusion caused by how the Governor’s Orders are applied and communicated. As one of 89 counties that must follow the Governor’s Orders, we are subject to laws that are different to our neighboring Knox County which is one of the six metro counties allowed to provide their own plans.

The Attorney General provided an Opinion that explains the Governor’s authority in a public health emergency and the inability of local governments (89 counties) to override the Governor’s decisions. The opinion states, “Regardless of the choice that he might make, political subdivisions may not take any action that undermines the executive orders. Thus, a political subdivision may not take any action that is either more restrictive or less restrictive as to the subjects addressed in the orders. Such action would be at cross purposes with the orders and, therefore, constitute an impermissible legal conflict.”