Gov. Lee orders statewide 'Safer-at-Home' order closing nonessential businesses amid COVID-19

Posted at 1:50 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 09:10:03-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a statewide "Safer-at-Home" order to close all nonessential businesses.

Read the FULL ORDER here

Lee made the announcement during his daily briefing, saying the order is not a shelter-in-place mandate, but instead strongly urges Tennesseans to stay at home when at all possible.

The order mandates businesses or organizations that do not perform essential services close its public access and are encouraged to use delivery, takeout, online or telephone operations.

Essential activities are defined as things like going to the grocery store, getting medications, providing or facilitating food orders, outdoor activities within the health guidelines and caring for or visiting a family member or friend within the health guidelines.

Essential travel is defined as the following:

Travel related to Essential Activity or otherwise permitted by this Order
Travel related to performing Essential Services
Travel to care for the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
Travel to and from outside of the State of Tennessee or
Travel required by law, law enforcement, or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.

Essential Services Include:

Health Care and Public Health Operations
Human Services Operations
Essential Infrastructure Operations
Essential Government Functions
Food and Medicine Stores
Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture
Organizations that Provide Charitable and Social Services
Religious and Ceremonial Functions
Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation
Financial Institutions and Insurance Entities
Hardware and Supply Stores
Critical Trades
Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pick-up Services
Educational Institutions
Laundry Services
Restaurants for Off-Premises Consumption
Supplies to Work from Home
Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations
Home-based Care and Services
Residential Facilities and Shelters
Professional Services
Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain for Critical Products and Industries
Hotels and Motels
Funeral Services

The order will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

This comes after more than 1,500 doctors from across the state signed a letter urging the governor to issue a statewide shelter in place. Statewide, Tennessee has nearly 1,900 confirmed cases and 13 deaths from COVID-19 as of March 30.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.