Lee Order On Opening Restaurants Monday Says It Trumps Local Orders - As Long As Health Department Goes Along

Friday, April 24, 2020

A new executive order by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on the re-opening of restaurants across the state trumps local orders - as long as the county health department goes along.

The order lets restaurants re-open on Monday for dine-in with some strict guidelines.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has said his order that keeps restaurants (for dine-in) and many other businesses closed will run for at least through next week.

However, a portion of the new Lee order says:

This order shall supersede and preempt any emergency order, health order, or other order issued by a local official or local governmental entity addressing or otherwise related to covid-19; provided, that the six locally run County Health departments in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby or Sullivan counties shall have the authority to maintain any existing order or issue further restrictions regarding the operation of restaurants for the purposes of containment or management of the spread of covid-19.

The Hamilton County Health Department is planning to begin monitoring the restaurant re-openings on Monday and has not shown any indication of keeping them closed.

 

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Friday afternoon, Hamilton County appreciates everyone’s comments and opinions over the last few months. After much consideration, we will be following Governor Lee’s order, as we have consistently, to start re-opening businesses through a phased process.

"As businesses reopen, we continue to request their implementation of social distancing practices of at least six feet and ask that 10 or more individuals are not in one area at the same time (*restaurants, please see Governor Lee’s guidelines specific to you). We also strongly recommend that employees continue to wear protective face masks.

"If businesses cannot adhere to these guidelines, they must restructure their operations to ensure the safety of their employees and customers.

"We continue to strongly advise individuals only to visit places they need to go and to practice good hygiene by washing hands frequently and covering their face when sneezing and coughing. High-risk groups are still encouraged to stay home. This includes citizens 65 years and older, as well as any individuals with underlying health conditions."

Governor Lee and the Economic Recovery Group issued first steps from the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first industries to receive guidance through the plan include the restaurant and retail industries.

Restaurant Industry Guidance can be downloaded here, Retail Industry Guidance can be downloaded here, and General Guidance for Tennessee Businesses can be downloaded here.

Additionally, a comprehensive summary of this guidance can be downloaded here.

Governor Lee and the Economic Recovery Group will provide specific guidance for additional Tennessee industries in the coming weeks. More information on the Tennessee Pledge is available here and more information on Tennessee's Economic Recovery Group is available  here.

Executive Order 29 amends Executive Order 17 to reopen dining in restaurants beginning at 12:01 CDT Monday. Subject to the expectation that restaurants will operate within ERG Guidelines, on-site dining at restaurants will no longer be prohibited in Tennessee, unless a locally run county health department in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby, or Sullivan Counties independently prohibits or otherwise regulates the opening, closing, or operation of restaurants within its respective county.

 

If a restaurant does not operate in a safe manner, or if health outcomes demonstrate that a particular business or industry sector is unable to be operated in a sufficiently safe manner, the Governor and/or other applicable state official(s) may issue additional orders concerning that business or industry, it was stated.

 

Bars, nightclubs, and limited service restaurants shall continue to be closed to persons for the purposes of eating or drinking on-site. Take-out and delivery alcohol sales by restaurants remain permitted.

 

For the full text of the order click here.


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