Governor extends state of emergency through August

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 30, 2020 9:55 AM CT | Published: June 29, 2020 2:23 PM CT

Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 50 Monday, June 29, to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to Aug. 29.

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The order allows the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations. 

Lee made the order after the state recorded 2,125 cases since Saturday out of 28,629 tests. So far, the state has totaled 42,297 cases of COVID-19 with 592 deaths, 2,599 hospitalized and 26,962 recovered. Some 776,858 have been tested.

Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to Aug. 29. 

The extension of electronic government meetings drew immediate questions from Scott Banbury, a member of the Sierra Club from Memphis. He pointed out many communities across the state don’t have adequate access to the Internet, making it difficult for residents to keep up with government action when they can’t attend meetings.

“You can go out and eat f---ing burgers where you want to, but we can’t have public meetings anymore,” Banbury said.

Banbury said he’s worried this executive order is a step toward making electronic meetings permanent. As an organizer involved in opposing environmentally suspect activity, Banbury said he finds it difficult to monitor online or electronic meetings to see how elected officials and boards are handling business.

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 six 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 services and gatherings, though places of worship are urged to continue virtual or online services where possible. This also 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 six 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 six 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 takeout and delivery alcohol sales by restaurants and limited-service restaurants to continue to encourage customers to utilize takeout or delivery options.
  • Allow broad access to telehealth services.
  • Increase opportunities for people to easily join the health care 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.
  • Increase opportunities to work remotely where appropriate.

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do


Gov. Bill Lee COVID-19 Tennessee State of emergency

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