Lee orders statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 and on dine-in restaurants, bars

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has issued a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and  ordered all restaurants be limited only to drive-thru or takeout service.

Restaurants that serve alcohol will be allowed to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption under the oder.  Gyms and fitness centers will also be ordered closed.

The executive order runs from Monday through April 6.

Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a “Safer at Home” policy for the city that requires all non-essential businesses to close their doors. As of Sunday morning, Nashville had 179 residents who had contracted COVID-19, with those between ages 18 and 49 making up nearly 70% of the cases.

Under guidance issued by the Metro Nashville Department of Public Health:


  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others.
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies
  • Receive deliveries from any business which delivers


  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites.

Is this Order mandatory? What happens if I don’t comply?

Yes. This is a legally enforceable order.

The governor’s full release is after the jump.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17 calling for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models beginning at midnight CDT on Monday, March 23, 2020 until midnight CDT April 6, 2020. The order also outlines ways businesses and citizens should work to protect vulnerable populations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created both an economic and a health crisis and our response must continue to address both aspects,” said Gov. Lee. “Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.”

Executive Order 17 prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more people and also enacts the following provisions regarding restaurants, bars, and similar food and drink establishments:

  • Establishments are to exclusively offer drive-thru, take-out or delivery options to support families, businesses and the food supply chain during this emergency.
  • Establishments may sell alcohol by take-out or delivery (with the purchase of food) in closed containers to those who are age 21 and up.

Gyms and fitness/exercise centers or substantially similar facilities are to temporarily close and suspend in-person services until April 6, 2020. In the interim, these businesses are encouraged to pursue digital programming if possible.  

The order also pursues additional measures to keep vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions safe.

  • Visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care or assisted-living facilities is now limited to visits involving essential care only.
  • Businesses are encouraged to enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.

“I urge every Tennessean to take these actions seriously – our physical and economic health depend on this as we work to beat COVID-19,” said Lee.

More information regarding COVID-19, health resources and support for small business is available HERE.

33 Responses to Lee orders statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 and on dine-in restaurants, bars

  • Maranda says:

    I do not have an essential job. Our boss said business as usual because we are healthy and not of risk!!!! Please extend the stay at home !!!

  • MARLE says:

    By 2 weeks we will know if each of us, having been quarantined, have symptoms and therefore get tested.

    Those who test positive get quarantined for an additional 2 weeks.

    But starting on April 7, for those who are symptom free we are right back, where we are today. Are we going to shut down for a new, revolving 2-week period every time a new case surfaces? If not, why not?

  • James White says:

    I think this is an unconstitutional executive order and can not be enforced.

    • John says:

      Who’s going to sue?

      • James White says:

        If I had 10 friends, I would invite them over.

        • MARLE says:

          I hope, Roy, that you are eventually going to help me understand how many is “too many” ~a phrase you used to characterize your son’s concern with both cases and deaths. WE have past outbreaks with 10’s of thousands of deaths and 10’s of Millions of casses, one of them just 2 years ago. So I am hoping you get a little more definitive on the “too many” phrase.

  • Roy Herron says:

    I commend the Governor for acting to save lives.

    Our son works in a Tennessee hospital ER. He already has seen too many cases of Covid19. He reports his bosses and colleagues are certain that without strong, smart action too many will die.

    Governor Lee’s leadership on this issue of life-and-death is backed by health care leaders, scientists and public health experts. He deserves to be backed by every patriotic Tennessean and every committed person of faith who believes we are called to “love our neighbor as ourself.”

    • MARLE says:

      Roy….in SKorea where they tested those with upper resp symptoms 95% tested negative for Covid 19. You mentioned “too many” cases already. Do you know what percentage have tested negative compared to the “too many” who have tested positive?

      And in 2018, 70 Thousand died of the annual flu in the US and we closed down Nothing. We quarantined no one. Is that about the “right number” of dead from the flu and how many are “too many” that you predict will die without strong smart action.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        MARLE isn’t the problem that this Chinese flu is many times more contagious and lethal than the ordinary flu that we deal with every winter during flu season? If it is and we do nothing then we become Italy and what may be Spain. It seems the Southern Mediterranean “Que sera, sera” or however you spell it is not the answer, but I agree with the gist of your responses that this freezing of ourselves in place cannot go on forever or even for months or we soon will have more serious problems than the Chinese flu to worry about.

        I think we have to begin thinking about a two tier system whereby those who are not particularly at risk for anything other than a very nasty case of the flue are allowed to go about their life as they see fit while those who are at risk are afforded special accommodations to shop etc. This is already being done by food stores and should be applied wherever possible. Most of the endangered population is retired so they have much more flexibility to do what is necessary to protect themselves after the special accommodations are afforded to them.

        • MARLE says:

          Yes more contagious. And yes I have said many times that the vulnerable should isolate (since they are not integral part of the everyday work force usually) and the rest go about our economic life.

          But that is not what we are doing. The R-governor of MD today said that his job was to save lives. I wish someone had asked him was this his job in 2018 and what did he do to save lives in that flu year with 70K died?

          Most annual flu deaths are in the elderly who are immune compromised. In that population the vaccine that is nearly 99% effective in the young and healthy is only 25% effective in the elderly who are compromised b/c no amount of vaccine can make their immune system able to ward off the virus.

          If the governor’s job is to save lives as he said, and nothing else, then this shut down should happen Every single Year from now on. And obviously it should have happened each year for the past several decades.

          • MARLE says:

            Death rate is 1.3% currently, Stuart…..but that is b/c by testing everyone who dies of upper respiratory illness we KNOW the actual number for the Numerator.

            Lethal cannot be determined until we get the Denominator ( infection cases) accurately totaled and as it stands no that is WAY low b/c those with mild symptoms don’t show up at medical facilities and we have had limited test kits.

            When we get Eventually get an accurate Denominator to divide into the Currently accurate Numerator we will Certainly get a Death Rate much lower than 1.3%.

    • John says:

      Bill Lee is about two weeks too late. Tennessee will be like Northern Italy because of our spineless governor.

  • Teddy says:

    So, a restaurant can deliver or sell alcohol by delivery or drive through but a liquor store cannot? Looks like the Governor is picking winners and losers. Liquor stores should be able to deliver; they are nearly all locally owned small businesses and are struggling through these tough times. Come on Governor, if your order is in fact legal, treat everyone fairly.

    • MARLE says:

      If we are suppose to upend our lives by quarantine for weeks can’t we also be expected to lay off the booze? Or can one only be tolerated provided the other is still available?

  • Tj says:

    What are the penalties? Who enforces the quarantine(martial law)?
    Laid off employees need currency. Pawn shops are needed, also gold buyers.
    A gold ring could feed a family for weeks.
    This is overblown BS. Fourth Amendment violation.
    The elite have planned for this for years. See The Hunger Games movie.
    Just try enforcing this on the illegals.

  • Teddy says:

    Marle, you missed the point entirely. Its not about the booze, it is about the survival of many very small businesses.

  • Donna Locke says:

    This is wise, but I am pretty sure we are in the apocalypse because my Generation X daughter came over and took home a Dean Martin CD.

    Said she was going to make an Italian dinner.

  • MARLE says:

    These are CDC website death rates JUST 2 Years Ago by age group (irrespective of underlying conditions which would indicate if those who died in each age group ALSO had major disease)


  • James White says:

    Tennessee Constitution, Article I, Section 23. That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address of remonstrance.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Constitution out the window today

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Just be thankful for those of us with decent government jobs so we have no pay disruptions. Pity those that do

    • Tj says:

      State, county, and federal employees will stay home and receive full pay and benefits, while the rest of Tennesseans suffer. These public employees already receive almost 50% more in pay and benefits.
      This is a good time to even the game. Find out how many these people we can do without.

      • MARLE says:

        State employees, as they whine constantly about their horrible pay scale never mention, retirement benefits, health care benefits AND their job security which is great in good times and which is on full display in bad times such as these.

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  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    This governor is really dragging his feet!! We MUST have a strong and strict shelter in place directive, No one leaves their property!! police and fire departments and national guard can deliver food and supplies, Each person should list what they have in case they have too many supplies and they can be shared by neighbors. Many people with EBT cards need additional food NOW! The government is overlooking how much we really need them to step up now and in a BIG way!

    • Cannoneer2 says:

      He is primarily listening to the businesswhiners, as usual..

    • James White says:

      Beatrice, your mixing up Tennessee with Communist China.

    • Tj says:

      My Food City is well stocked except tp, bread, and beef. It sold 96,000 lbs meat last week.
      I go every day and observe grocery carts and purchasers.
      Almost every cart is lined up with 12 packs of soft drinks, and junk foods. The fresh produce section is almost untouched.
      I then try to see method of payment. Cashiers confirm that the majority pay with EBT cards.
      I think EBT users will be less affected than blue collar layoffs.
      My town (6000) has hundreds low rent housing, with rents as low as$50 month, some with utilities.
      They are getting thousands each of unearned income tax checks this year.
      Many wouldn’t work in a pie factory for $25 hour.

  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    businesses need to make supplies and services free of charge now till some of us make it through this. About 50 people are dying an HOUR

    • Tj says:

      Beatrice, where did you get that ridiculous #?
      Maybe 50 per hour worldwide. This virus is a blip on the medical scene.
      It is being promoted by the elite for total control of me and you.
      A famous socialist once said,” never let a good crisis go to waste”.

  • Jonathan Swift says:

    It’s amazing how many legal and leadership experts post on this site! I wonder how many of them vote, and what new blood they vote for.

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