Governor extends ‘safer-at home’ order through April

Gov. Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday extended through April 30 the state “safer-at-home” order baning non-essential travel and group activity in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The executive order authorized by state law and requiring people to stay at home except for essential activities was signed by Lee on April 2 and originally set to expire today, April 14.
“We need Tennesseans to go back to work. But we also need everyone to recognize that physical distancing must continue for the foreseeable future,” Lee said, noting that unemployment claims have been 25 times higher than normal.
“In cooperation with guidance from the White House, we’ll extend our stay-at-home order through April 30th, and plan to begin reopening our economy in May. Beginning in May we begin a phased reboot of our economy.”
Lee said between now and then, he and his policy advisers will be working with industry leaders to create industry-specific guidance, so that businesses can be fully prepared to operate safely and protect their employees and customers. He added that he created the advisory council in mid-March, including members from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce as well as leaders in the hospitality, transportation and grocery industries, to stay on top of how the COVID-19 crisis affects business in the state and keep a close watch on the state’s economy.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, and it could be some time. But it is clear that actions we’ve taken at the state, combined with the local level – most importantly with the determination of our citizens, and the bravery of our first responders and health care workers on the front lines – those efforts have saved countless lives across Tennessee,” Lee said.
He cautioned that despite encouraging signs in the battle to contain COVID-19 within the state, Tennesseans have to remain vigilant and continue social distancing and hygiene efforts, including consistent hand washing and other practices recommended by the Tennessee Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Otherwise, he said, “We have a very serious risk that this disease could come roaring back, and erase all the progress that we have made to date. Until a vaccine or therapy is widely made available to Tennesseans, this virus will be a present reality for us to manage and consider whenever we are making decisions.”
Lee said it is also clear the economy can’t stay shut down for months on end. He added the situation leads to a clear but complicated task; how to conduct business safely while continuing to suppress the threat of COVID-19.

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