Q&A: What does the stay-at-home order mean for Tennessee residents?

Residents can still go to some stores but are advised to stay at home as much as possible. (Community Impact Staff)
Residents can still go to some stores but are advised to stay at home as much as possible. (Community Impact Staff)

Residents can still go to some stores but are advised to stay at home as much as possible. (Community Impact Staff)

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, local officials are asking residents to help slow the spread throughout the region.

Residents in Middle Tennessee are under a stay-at-home order until at least midnight April 14, meaning they are to stay at home unless conducting essential business. Gov. Bill Lee announced the order April 2. Some local cities, such as Metro Nashville, have extended those requirements until midnight April 24.

Lee had previously issued a “safer-at-home” call to urge residents to voluntarily close business and practice social distancing, but he later called for stricter requirements after data from traffic patterns showed travel in the area was increasing. However, the order is still not a shelter-in-place mandate, according to the order text.

For all of the below activities, individuals should ensure they are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which call for individuals to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, not to gather in groups of more than 10 people, to wash hands and frequently touched surfaces often and to avoid social gatherings and contact with people who are sick.

What is an essential trip?


For residents wondering what is considered an “essential” errand, the governor’s office has released a list of what is considered essential activity.

  • Seeking emergency medical services or getting non-elective medical care

  • Providing or receiving carryout or delivery of food

  • Caring for a friend or family member that is ill, provided health guidelines are followed

  • Buying food and medicine

  • Picking up educational materials from local educational institutions

  • Traveling to and outside the state of Tennessee


What can stay open?

The governor is calling for all nonessential businesses to close; however, some businesses are still allowed to operate while following health guidelines.

  • Restaurants offering to-go orders only

  • Clinics, dentists and other doctor’s offices

  • Veterinary offices

  • Stores that sell supplies for people working from home

  • Day cares and long-term care facilities

  • Food and beverage production

  • Construction services

  • Stores or businesses other than grocery stores that offer food or medicine, such as certified farmers markets, convenience stores, pet stores, pharmacies and liquor stores

  • Gas stations

  • Hardware and supply stores

  • Plumbers, electricians, cleaners and pest control companies


What must close?

Nonessential businesses are being asked to close brick-and-mortar sites until the order is lifted. While the order does provide for some businesses to continue in virtual capacities only, the following businesses are not permitted to continue in-person business.

  • Gyms and fitness studios

  • Salons and barbershops

  • Bars that do not offer food

  • Entertainment venues

  • Businesses that cannot operate with fewer than 10 people on premises


Are local governments still functioning?

Local government is considered an essential service and can still function under the stay-at-home order; however, many local government employees are working from home. Residents are advised to call city offices for services rather than going to local city halls.

What is being done to ensure businesses comply?

Local law enforcement officials as well as certain county departments have the power to fine violators under the order if they do not close their business or if they do not operate as stated in the order guidelines. Local cities, such as Metro Nashville, Franklin and Brentwood, have announced compliance requirements stating that any businesses that violate orders to close are subject to citations. Businesses found to be in noncompliance will first be warned, and if noncompliance continues, they will be issued a citation.

Can I still go outside?

Residents can still go outside to walk in neighborhoods and parks provided they do not gather in groups and that they maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing. However, many park facilities, such as playgrounds and dog parks, have closed and should be avoided.

Do I need to wear a mask when I leave my house?

As of April 3, the CDC is recommending that vulnerable individuals—those who could become seriously ill if infected—should wear cloth masks in public. Residents should avoid using medical-grade masks to help conserve supplies for health care professionals; however, residents can make masks at home using household materials. Masks are also recommended in settings where social distancing may be difficult, such as the grocery store.

Masks should be washed after each use, and hands should be washed after removing the masks. Find more information and instructions on how to make homemade masks here.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


MOST RECENT

A dozen faith leaders in Nashville will hold a prayer vigil on the front lawn of the Metro Courthouse June 2. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nashville faith leaders to host prayer vigil for peace and unity June 2

A dozen faith leaders in Nashville will gather on the front lawn of the Metro Courthouse.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Tennessee. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Tennessee coronavirus cases up by more than 500 in past 24 hours

Case numbers rose to more than 23,000 cumulative cases over the weekend.

(Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
10 p.m. curfew issued in Nashville for Monday, June 1; city officials address damage to downtown

A curfew will be in effect through at least the early morning hours June 2.

Maple Street Biscuit Co. serves biscuits, waffles and more. (Courtesy Maple Street Biscuit Company)
Maple Street Biscuit Co. to open Nashville location in Berry Hill June 2

The location was most recently home to Holler & Dash, which closed in January.

The June 2 meeting will also be available for residents to watch via livestream at home. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Metro Nashville news and more: Updates from recent coverage

Read the latest Nashville-area news here.

The June 2 meeting will also be available for residents to watch via livestream at home. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mayor John Cooper issues curfew in Nashville following protests at City Hall

Following an outbreak of violence at a rally for George Floyd, Metro Nashville Police are calling for people to go home.

Gov. Bill Lee’s economic recovery group announced plans to lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and businesses in Tennessee as well as to reopen larger, noncontact attractions by May 22. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
State preps to expand hospital capacity, plus four other Nashville updates

Here are five recent updates from the Nashville area on businesses reopening, the path to economic recovery and more.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Tennessee coronavirus cases up by more than 400 in past 24 hours; 4 more deaths confirmed

New reported cases have risen by less than 2% in the past 24 hours.

Colts Chocolates will reopen inside The Mall at Green Hills in early June. (Courtesy Colts Chocolates)
Colts Chocolates to reopen June 2 inside The Mall at Green Hills

The Nashville-based company will open a new retail store on the same day at its factory in Inglewood.

The June 2 meeting will also be available for residents to watch via livestream at home. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Metro Nashville Council to accept virtual, in-person comments at June 2 public hearing on FY 2020-21 budget

Metro Nashville Council is utilizing a call-in method for public comments on Mayor John Cooper's proposed FY 2020-21 opearting budget.

(Courtesy Frist Art Museum)
Frist Art Museum in Nashville to reopen in phases starting June 22

All exhibitions that opened before the Frist Art Museum closed March 15 will be extended past their original closing dates.

If state health officials determine additional hospital capacity is needed in Middle Tennessee, the alternate site will allow space for 67 beds. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Tennessee preps alternate care site in Nashville to increase COVID-19 hospital capacity in region

If state health officials determine additional hospital capacity is needed in Middle Tennessee, the alternate site will allow space for 67 beds.