Governor Bill Lee’s economic recovery group announced plans to lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and businesses in Tennessee, as well as to reopen larger, non-contact attractions beginning May 22.


“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen,” Lee said in a release. “Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way.”

Under the updated guidelines to the governor’s Tennessee Pledge, restaurants and retail businesses will no longer have to limit their stores to 50% capacity, and social distancing best practices will replace the former capacity restrictions.

However, six counties in Tennessee—Shelby, Knox, Davidson, Hamilton, Sullivan and Madison—may continue to follow individual, county-specific regulations and rules for reopening in consultation with state and health departments, according to the release.

Updated guidelines in the Tennessee Pledge referring to large, non-contact attractions include racetracks, amusement parks, water parks, theaters, large museums and more, though restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people will remain in place, according to the press release from the governor’s office.

“Our state continues to see downward trends in case growth and meets the White House criteria for a phased reopening,” Lee said. “This progress has been hard-won, and we can build upon it by reopening while also maintaining common-sense safety measures like mask-wearing and good hygiene.”


Since the governor’s Tennessee Pledge plan to reopen businesses was first announced on April 24, new cases of the coronavirus have almost doubled state-wide, rising from 8,726 confirmed cases on April 24 to 16,970 as of May 15, according to daily updates from the Tennessee Department of Health. The case numbers include active cases and recoveries from the coronavirus. The rate of new cases per day has varied as testing totals have increased, but the overall rate of new cases has decrease, according to graphs from the Economic Recovery Group.

“By taking the Tennessee Pledge, our businesses can reopen in a way that protects the health of their customers and employees, and protects the livelihoods of hard-working Tennesseans,” the governor said.