Monday afternoon, Gov. Bill Lee announced that he will not extend Tennessee’s Safer at Home order and that businesses could begin phased reopening as early as next week.
“Our Economic Recovery Group is working with industry leaders around the clock so that some businesses can open as soon as Monday, April 27,” Gov. Lee said. “These businesses will open according to specific guidance that we will provide in accordance with state and national experts in both medicine and business.”
This reopening applies to the 89 counties in Tennessee with state-run county health agencies. Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties all operate their own health departments and will need to plan their own reopening strategies. Gov. Lee stated that his administration will be working closely with these counties as they plan their reopenings.
“While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” Lee said. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”
Knox county Mayor Glenn Jacobs announced his support of Gov. Lee’s decision in a statement shortly after Lee’s.
“I agree with Gov. Lee’s decision to end the Safer at Home Order on April 30 and am pleased he has said that some businesses will be able to open as early as next Monday,” Mayor Jacobs said. “I look forward to working with the State to develop a plan for Knox County that gets people back to work as safely and quickly as possible.”
Though no concrete plan for Knox county has been made available yet, Mayor Jacob’s emphasized his belief that Knox county is ready to be reopened.
“As of today, Knox County has 28 active cases. Our case trend line has remained flat over the past week and our recoveries are increasing. Hospitals in our region are just over fifty percent occupied, and thanks to the efforts of our local health departments, hospitals and TEMA, we are well positioned to accommodate an increase in COVID-19 patients should there be an unexpected increase in the trend line.”
Other Tennessee politicians, such as Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, have raised their support for the end of the Stay at Home order.
“Due to the Safer at Home order, the curve is flattening and damage to the public health has been minimized. We are testing more Tennesseans than ever and that will continue,” Lt. Gov. McNally said. “We are now well-prepared for a cautious reopening and economic reboot. Our state has consistently balanced the health of our people with the health of our economy. That remains the case today as we prepare to reestablish Tennessee's strong and structurally sound economy.“
In addition, Tennessee State Parks announced that most of their 56 parks will reopen on Friday, April 24 for day-use only.
“We are eager to serve once again but we urge Tennesseans to continue to practice physical distancing when visiting parks,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We have implemented policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we will monitor all aspects of the issue to ensure safety among visitors and our staff.”
Information about the specific parks reopening will be made available later this week on tnstateparks.com.