For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the state, all business restrictions and executive orders surrounding COVID-19 will be allowed to expire after April 28.
In a news conference April 27, Gov. Bill Lee said with all Tennesseans ages 16 and older able to receive a vaccine, officials have agreed it is time to remove restrictions on local governments and businesses.
"We've entered a new season and we have significant tools at our disposal and it's time for government to get out of the business of public health interventions," Lee said. "COIVD-19 is now a managed public health issue and our state's no longer a public health crisis."
The order expiration means local municipalities will no longer be required to live stream meetings or meet virtually and other restrictions will also be removed.
While Lee said there are no longer restrictions for businesses in most counties across the state, officials have long recommended guidelines in the Tennessee Pledge, which outlines capacity limits and other health precautions. Lee said these guidelines will be retired as well.
"It's time for businesses to get back to serving their customers," Lee said. "It's time for celebrations, weddings and conventions and concerts and parades and proms and everything in between to happen without limits on gathering sizes or other arbitrary restrictions for those events."
Additionally, Lee said the remaining mask mandates in place locally will also be removed. Lee said local governments will no longer be allowed to institute mask mandates for residents in counties without their own health department, which includes Williamson County. Metro Nashville officials announced April 27 all capacity restrictions will be removed, however the city's mask mandate will remain in place until further notice.
In a statement issued via social media, Lee encouraged the remaining six counties in the state with mask mandates to remove them by Memorial Day.
However, Lee said Tennessee's state of emergency will continue to allow access to federal funding and to lessen certain regulations.
Lee also said all Tennesseans are still encouraged to get a vaccination. Residents can find a vaccine provider near them at www.vaccinefinder.org.
Gov. Bill Lee: Executive orders around COVID-19 to expire April 28; all business restrictions, mask mandates to be lifted
Gov. Bill Lee announced all executive orders and restrictions around COVID-19 will be lifted in most counties across the state April 28. (Screenshot via Facebook)