Governor extends state of emergency through September

By , Daily Memphian Published: August 28, 2020 5:15 PM CT
<strong>Gov. Bill Lee has signed executive orders extending Tennessee&rsquo;s state of emergency until Sept. 30. Lee signed the orders on Friday, Aug. 28, after attending the Republican National Convention at the White House Thursday night</strong>. (Houston Cofield/Daily Memphian file)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed executive orders extending Tennessee’s state of emergency until Sept. 30. Lee signed the orders on Friday, Aug. 28, after attending the Republican National Convention at the White House Thursday night. (Houston Cofield/Daily Memphian file)

Fresh off a trip to the Republican National Convention, Gov. Bill Lee signed executive orders Friday, Aug. 28, extending Tennessee’s state of emergency until Sept. 30 and allowing mayors to put mask mandates in place.

Executive order 59 affects six previous orders, and the governor also signed two other new orders extending provisions for electronic meetings and remote notarization and witnessing of document signing through the end of September.

Lee signed the orders Friday after attending the RNC with his wife, Maria, to support the nomination of President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday night.


Lawmakers want more ‘checks and balances’ in state of emergency


In addition to extending the state of emergency for another month, the governor’s order urges people to wear cloth face coverings in public when close to others and gives local government leaders authority to put mask mandates in place.

The conservative group Citizens for Limited Government and Constitutional Integrity filed suit against the governor and Tennessee this week, maintaining his decision to allow 89 of the state’s 95 counties to set their own mask mandates violates the Tennessee Constitution. The other six counties, including Shelby, had that ability under a separate order made by the governor.

During a press briefing this week, the governor pointed out the COVID-19 pandemic creates “an unusual situation none of us has faced.”

“We’ve worked really hard to make sure everything we do falls within the framework of the Constitution,” Lee said.

The order also urges social distancing and limits on social and recreational gatherings of 50 or more people unless social distancing can be done.

In addition, it keeps visitation limits in place on nursing homes and long-term care facilities; maintains requirements for employers and businesses to comply with the Tennessee Pledge for safe operations; allows bars to serve only people seated at properly spaced tables; continues to allow takeout alcohol sales to encourage carryout and delivery orders; allows broad access to telehealth services; provides for increased testing and health care capacity; extends deadlines for continuing education; and increases opportunities to work remotely.

The state’s larger counties such as Shelby and Davidson are allowed to set their own guidelines for safe business and bar and restaurant operations.

Topics

Gov. Bill Lee coronavirus pandemic mask ordinance
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a Nashville-based reporter with more than 30 years of journalism experience as a writer, editor and columnist covering the state Legislature and Tennessee politics for The Daily Memphian.


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