By Tamas Mondovics
To many, it comes as no surprise that Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 50 this week to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to August 29, 2020.
“Today, I signed Executive Order No. 50, which extends the State of Emergency in Tennessee to Aug. 29, and promotes regulatory flexibility and social distancing measures,” Lee stated on his Twitter account, on Monday.
According to the governor’s office, new executive orders extend key provisions from previous orders and “allows the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures in these orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations.”
Executive Order No. 50 extends previous provisions that:
Urge Tennesseans to continue limiting activity and staying home where possible, as well as following health guidelines and maintaining social distancing;
Urge persons to wear a cloth face covering in places where in close proximity to others;
Urge employers to allow or require remote work/telework if possible;
Provide that persons with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms are required to stay at home, and that employers may not require or allow employees with COVID-19 to work;
Limit social and recreational gatherings of 50 or more persons, unless adequate social distancing can be maintained (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments may issue different directives on gatherings)
This does not apply to places of worship, for which there are guidelines for safe operation of worship services and gatherings, though places of worship are urged to continue virtual or online services where possible;
This does not apply to weddings, funerals, and related events, but encourages postponement of large-gathering components of such events;
Limit contact sports with a requirement or substantial likelihood of routine close contact
This does not apply to collegiate or professional sports conducted under the rules or guidelines of their respective governing bodies and does not prohibit training or otherwise practicing the elements of such sports that do not involve close contact with persons;
Limit nursing home and long-term-care facility visitation, while providing a framework for safe, limited visitation set forth in Executive Order No. 49, and continue the closure of senior centers;
Provide that employers and businesses are expected to comply with the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge) for operating safely, as well as general health guidelines from the CDC and other government entities (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments have authority to issue different directives on businesses/venues);
Provide that bars may only serve customers seated at appropriately spaced tables and must follow the Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge) for restaurants (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments have authority to issue different directives on businesses/venues);
Urge persons and businesses to take special care to protect vulnerable populations, including by offering delivery or special shopping hours where possible;
Allow take-out and delivery alcohol sales by restaurants and limited-service restaurants to continue to encourage customers to utilize take-out or delivery options;
Allow broad access to telehealth services;
Increase opportunities for people to easily join the healthcare workforce;
Provide easier access to unemployment benefits;
Ensure supply chain protections;
Extend deadlines and suspend certain in-person continuing education or inspection requirements to avoid unnecessary person-to-person contact; and
Increase opportunities to work remotely where appropriate.
Executive Order No. 51
Executive Order No. 16, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 34, which allows governing bodies to meet electronically regarding essential business as long as they provide electronic access to the public and meet the safeguards established in that order to ensure openness and transparency, is extended through August 29 to ensure that governmental entities are able to carry out essential business in a safe, transparent way without creating large gatherings in a confined space and endangering persons, particularly those at increased risk of suffering severe illness from COVID-19, while determinations of how best to return to safe, in-person governmental meetings remain ongoing.
Summary of Executive Order No. 52
Executive Order No. 26, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 37, which allows for remote notarization and witnessing of documents, subject to compliance with certain procedures, is extended through August 29 to ensure that persons, and particularly populations especially vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and persons with compromised immune systems or serious chronic medical conditions, can continue to engage in commerce and execute legal documents without requiring in-person contact.