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Stay-at-Home Orders in Tennessee and Virginia

On Thursday, April 2, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 23, requiring Tennesseans stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities. The order remains in effect until April 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a similar order on March 30, which will remain in effect until June 10.

These orders were made in response to continued spreads of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Why is this necessary?

Previously, Gov. Lee had strongly encouraged residents to stay home and adhere to physical distancing (6 feet or more) guidelines, but he stopped short of an executive order. However, as of Thursday, Tennessee had 2,845 COVID-19 cases – and 32 fatalities.

Physical distancing remains the best and most effective method to flatten the curve of COVID-19, and these executive orders are firm mandates to ensure compliance.

Where can I go?

Essential activities include:

  • Obtaining food, drinks or essential goods and services
  • Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental services, assistance from law enforcement or emergency services
  • Taking care of other people, animals or visiting the home of a family member
  • Traveling required by court order or for child custody, visitation or child care
  • Engaging in outdoor activities, including exercise, provided you comply with social distancing requirements
  • Traveling to and from home, places of worship or work
  • Traveling to and from an educational institution
  • Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services
  • Leaving home due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement or at the direction of another government agency

Hospitals are still open and caring for patients with a variety of healthcare needs.

As always, if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.

What does this mean for local businesses?

On March 22, Gov. Lee signed an executive order instructing all nonessential businesses to close until mid-April, while reinforcing safer-at-home and physical distancing. That restriction was extended to April 30.

Nonessential businesses include:

  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Amusement parks
  • Arcades
  • Barbershops and salons, including hair, waxing and threading
  • Body-art facilities or tattoo services
  • Bowling alleys
  • Concert venues
  • Indoor children’s play areas
  • Massage therapy or massage services
  • Nail salons or spas
  • Night clubs
  • Racetracks
  • Roller- or ice-skating rinks
  • Spas providing body treatments
  • Tanning salons
  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers or similar facilities

Essential businesses include:

  • Healthcare and public health operations
  • Human services operations
  • Essential infrastructure operations
  • Essential government operations and functions
  • Food and medicine stores
  • Food and beverage productions and agriculture
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Religious and ceremonial functions
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial institutions and insurance facilities
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for off-premises consumption, such as pick-up and delivery
  • Supplies to work from home
  • Supplies for essential business operations
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services
  • Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services

You can read the full Tennessee executive order here.

Gov. Northam issued a similar order for Virginia businesses on March 24. The requirement for nonessential businesses remain closed was extended to May 8.

What happens if someone violates these orders?

Even without executive orders, failure to observe physical distancing and safer-at-home guidelines puts you, your family, your patients and our communities at risk. COVID-19 is a real threat to our health, and observing safety measures is crucial.

In Tennessee

Additionally, Gov. Lee has given local law enforcement agencies the authority to enforce the mandate as they see fit – including citations.

He also said non-essential businesses that are operating outside of the mandate guidelines should be reported to local law enforcement.

In Virginia

Violation of Gov. Northam’s order is a Class 1 misdemeanor, including for business. Commonwealth and local police will assess violations on a case-by-case basis.

Updates about stay-at-home orders, as well as general COVID-19 information and news, is available on our COVID-19 page.