Starnes Davis Florie


Tennessee Responds to COVID-19 Outbreak

April 1, 2020

The State of Tennessee and Nashville-Davidson County governments have issued a number of orders which significantly impact business operations during the pendency of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The most recent—signed March 30, 2020—is Executive Order No. 22:  Tennessee’s version of a “Safer at Home” order.  It also classifies “essential” activities and services.

The Order urges—but does not require—citizens to stay at home except when engaging in an essential activity or performing essential services.  Even when engaging in an essential activity or essential service, citizens are strongly encouraged to limit the frequency and time of such actions.

“Essential services” businesses specifically include the following:

  1. Critical Infrastructure Workers identified on pg. 5 – 15 of the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”).
  2. Health Care and Public Health Operations (except with respect to elective procedures, which are prohibited by Executive Order No. 18)
  3. Human Services Operations.
  4. Essential Infrastructure Operations.
  5. Essential Government Functions.
  6. Food and Medicine Stores.
  7. Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture.
  8. Charitable/Social Services Organizations.
  9. Religious/Ceremonial Functions.
  10. Media.
  11. Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation.
  12. Financial Institutions and Insurance Entities.
  13. Hardware and Supply Stores.
  14. Critical Trades. (i.e., building/construction; plumbers; electricians; exterminators; janitors; engineers; HVAC; painting; moving/relocation services).
  15. Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pick-Up Services.
  16. Educational Institutions (only for purposes of facilitating distance learning, providing food or shelter, performing critical research, or performing essential functions)
  17. Laundry Services.
  18. Restaurants for Off-Premises Consumption.
  19. Supplies to Work from Home.
  20. Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations.
  21. Transportation.
  22. Home-based Care and Services.
  23. Residential Facilities and Shelters.
  24. Professional Services. (legal, accounting, insurance, or real estate)
  25. Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain for Critical Products and Industries.
  26. Hotels and Motels. (food and beverage services must be provided on a delivery or carry-out basis)
  27. Funeral Services.
  28. Any business related to an essential activity.
  29. Any business that operates at all times with ten (10) or fewer persons accessing the premises at a time.
  30. The minimum necessary activities required to maintain any business or organization, whether essential or not.

“Essential activities” are defined in the Order as “activities essential to a person’s health and safety or the health and safety of family or household members, persons who are unable or who should not leave their home, or pets.”  Essential activities expressly include the following:

  1. Seeking emergency services.
  2. Obtaining medical supplies, medication, or assistance.
  3. Obtaining non-elective medical care.
  4. Visiting a health care professional.
  5. Obtaining necessary services or supplies, including groceries, good, household consumer products, supplies to permit working from home; automobile supplies, and products necessary to maintain the home.
  6. Providing, facilitating, or receiving delivery or curbside carry-out of online or telephone orders.
  7. Engaging in outdoor activity, while still observing health guidelines (playgrounds are specifically prohibited from use).
  8. Caring for or visiting a family member, friend, or pet in another household.
  9. Visiting a place of worship, except that it is strongly encouraged that only close family attend weddings or funerals.
  10. Engaging in travel related to essential activities or services; to care for the elderly, minors, dependents, disabled, or vulnerable persons; to educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, meals, or other related services; travel to or from the State of Tennessee; and travel required by law, law enforcement, or court order.

The order closes all businesses that do not perform essential services.  However, such businesses are encouraged to utilize curbside delivery and online/telephone orders to the greatest extent practicable.

While essential services businesses remain open, they are still required to follow health guidelines established by the President and the CDC.  They also cannot permit employees with COVID-19 to work.  Employees of essential services businesses are still encouraged to work remotely or via telework where practicable.

Executive Order No. 22 is effective until 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2020.  The full text of the Order (including the full description of “Essential Services”) can be found here.

Overviews of other COVID-19 related governmental orders, including Executive Order Nos. 17, 18, and 21, and Nashville-Davidson County’s “Safer at Home” Order, can be found below:

If you have any questions or need support in understanding and implementing the state or local guidance regarding COVID-19, please feel free to contact:

Alan Bean at (615) 905-7199 or

Click Here to view more COVID-19 Resources

This information is not intended to provide legal advice, and no legal or business decision should be based on its content. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.  Read full disclaimer.

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