Strickland issues Stay-at-Home order effective Tuesday evening

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 23, 2020 6:53 PM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 3:01 PM CT
<strong>Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland (shown Friday, March 20, before going into a daily press briefing)&nbsp;announced Monday, March 23, he is putting the city under a two-week shelter-in-place order beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday. &ldquo;We are in a serious, unprecedented time which calls for decisive action to keep everyone safe,&rdquo; Strickland said.</strong> (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland (shown Friday, March 20, before going into a daily press briefing) announced Monday, March 23, he is putting the city under a two-week shelter-in-place order beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday. “We are in a serious, unprecedented time which calls for decisive action to keep everyone safe,” Strickland said. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Editor’s note: Due to the serious public health implications associated with COVID-19, The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Monday, March 23, he is putting the city under a two-week shelter-in-place order beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, limiting movement to work travel at essential businesses and getting needed supplies.

“We are in a serious, unprecedented time which calls for decisive action to keep everyone safe,” Strickland said in issuing the “Safer at Home executive order.”


Municipalities, health department issuing Safer at Home Orders


“We can choose the path of doing nothing and having rampant infection throughout our city, causing health care providers to ration life-saving medical services like ventilators, or we can choose to take this situation seriously and slow the spread of the virus,” he said in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall as reporters stood six feet from each other in allotted spaces.

Arlington, Bartlett, Germantown and Collierville said they would issue similar orders Monday or Tuesday. Lakeland and Millington leaders could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon but all of Shelby County’s suburban cities are expected to follow Memphis’ lead.

The order, which could be extended beyond two weeks, is similar to one imposed last week in Metro Nashville. It puts individuals largely on the honor system but Strickland asked everyone to take it seriously.

“Obviously, this takes a lot of personal responsibility. … We are not going to proactively start stopping people to check and see where they are going,” he said. “What we will do, though, is if we drive by a business that should be closed but is operating, then we call code enforcement. We are not going to stop people proactively and ask where they are going or where their papers are.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a statewide executive order last week that essentially mirrored what Strickland had put in place for the city earlier in the week, curtailing much business activity but stopping short of Monday’s action. Lee, in his statewide order, also stopped short of a shelter-in-place, or stay-at-home, order.


Governor signs executive order curtailing business operations statewide


“Things will get worse before they get better, but they will get better,” Strickland said. “You must take social distancing seriously. You must stay home unless it is essential pursuant to the order. If you don’t do this for yourself, please do it for your grandparents, your mom or your dad, your elderly neighbor, a friend of yours with health issues or for the doctors and nurses treating those with the virus. We all must come together to stay apart and stop the spread of the virus.”

Details of the full order, and the order’s lengthy list of what is considered an essential and a non-essential service, can be found here.

“In some ways, it is very specific,” city chief legal officer Jennifer Sink said of the executive order, which she drafted. “In other instances, it is a broader definition to allow for the mayor to exercise discretion and to also allow for the fact there are probably some specific businesses that maybe we haven’t thought of explicitly.”

Sink said the new order provides for some degree of normalcy in daily lives.

“We want to encourage people to still be able to go outside, walk your dog, take a walk,” she said. “We are keeping city parks open, but in all of the instances, all of these essential activities and businesses, we are asking them to please abide by social distancing guidelines no matter what you are doing.”

The extension of the declaration of a civil emergency that Strickland issued last week to combat the COVID-19 virus is similar to a stay-at-home order issued in Metro Nashville last week as well as other cities and states across the country.

Strickland also said a task force is in place to meet with owners of nonessential businesses ordered closed by the new order to work with them on reopening and recovering from the economic impact of the closure.

“The mayor is being driven largely by science and data and expert information to make these decisions,” Sink said. “Two weeks is consistent with what a lot of the physicians think is a time period in which the situation can become manageable. But we will be re-evaluating it.”

Strickland also said his administration is exploring some type of interim housing for the homeless, who he said are among the most vulnerable even in normal conditions.

Doctors and Strickland say the measure was necessary to prevent rationing health care and putting a strain on hospitals.

The declaration Strickland enacted last week closed several types of businesses and discouraged gatherings of five or more. Through the order, Strickland has ramped up restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus and the impact the spread of the virus could have on health care in the city.

Meanwhile, “a couple of dozen” – by Strickland’s description – first responders were tested for COVID-19 on Tiger Lane Monday morning. Strickland said the drive-thru testing was a test run of how the site will work as a site for the public with referrals from doctors.

Meaningful news delivered to you each week

Coverage of the key happenings in our city including city hall, education, and more.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions

Topics

coronavirus civil emergency Jim Strickland
Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


Comment On This Story

Meaningful news delivered to you each week

Coverage of the key happenings in our city including city hall, education, and more.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions