So what’s essential? A look at Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order

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

Here are the details about which businesses are exempted by Gov. Bill Lee’s order for non-essential operations to shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a long list, ranging from marinas to dry cleaners. It also includes “any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten or fewer persons accessing the premises.”

Here’s the full breakdown:

For purposes of Executive Order No. 22, Essential Services include:

1. Personnel identified on pages 5-15 of the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security

2. Health Care and Public Health Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: hospitals; clinics; medical practices and services; mental health and substance abuse services; dental offices; pharmacies; public health entities, including those that compile, model, analyze, and communicate public health information; pharmaceutical, pharmacy, medical device and equipment, and biotechnology companies (including operations, research and development, manufacture, and supply chain components); organizations collecting blood, platelets, plasma, and other necessary materials; obstetricians and gynecologists; eye care centers, including those that sell glasses and contact lenses; home health care services providers; mental health and substance use providers; other health care facilities and suppliers; providers of any related and/or ancillary health care services; entities that transport and dispose of medical materials and remains; manufacturers, technicians, logistics, and warehouse operators, and distributors of medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical gases, pharmaceuticals, blood, platelets, and plasma products, vaccines, testing materials, laboratory supplies, cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilization supplies, and tissue and paper towel products; veterinary care and all health care services provided to animals. This also includes any medical or administrative personnel necessary to operate those functions in this paragraph. Health Care and Public Health Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of health care, broadly defined. Health Care and Public Health Operations does not include any procedures that would violate Executive Order No. 18, which remains in effect;

3. Human Services Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: government or government-funded human services to the public through state-operated, institutional, or community-based settings; long-term care facilities; day care centers, day care homes, or group day care homes; residential settings and shelters for adults, seniors, children, or people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, or mental illness; transitional facilities; home-based settings to provide services to individuals with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, seniors, adults, or children; field offices that provide and help to determine eligibility for basic needs including food, cash assistance, medical coverage, child care, vocational services, rehabilitation services; developmental centers; adoption agencies; businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities, or individuals otherwise in need. Human Services 7 Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of human services, broadly defined;

4. Essential Infrastructure Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: food production, distribution, and sale; construction-related services, including, but not limited to, construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, construction related to Essential Activity or Essential Services, and housing construction; building management and maintenance; landscape management; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, and gas; electrical services, including power generation, distribution, and production of raw materials; distribution centers; oil and biofuel refining; services related to roads, highways, railroads, ports, and public transportation; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection, removal, and processing; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems and services, including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services. Essential Infrastructure Operations shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to essential infrastructure, broadly defined;

5. Essential Government Functions. This includes, but is not limited to: first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, and those supporting 911 and emergency services; legislators and legislative branch officials and employees, as determined by the Legislative Branch; judges, judicial branch employees, court personnel, jurors, and grand jurors, as determined by the Judicial Branch; law enforcement personnel; corrections and community supervision personnel; hazardous materials responders; election officials and operations; child protection and child welfare personnel; housing and shelter personnel; park personnel that provide admission, maintenance, and operation of park facilities that provide outdoor recreation; military; and other governmental employees working for or to support Essential Activity or Essential Services. Essential Government Functions also means all services provided by the State, the political subdivisions of the State, and boards, commissions, or agencies of government needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for or support the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Essential Government Functions also includes contractors performing or supporting such functions. Each branch of government and government entity shall determine its Essential Government Functions and ensure a plan is in place for the performance of these functions. This paragraph does not apply to the United States government; provided, however, that any employee, official, or contractor of the United States government shall not be restricted from performing their functions under law;

6. Food and Medicine Stores. This includes, but is not limited to: stores that sell groceries and medicine; grocery stores; pharmacies; certified farmers’ markets; farm and produce stands; supermarkets; convenience stores; and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, prepared food, alcoholic 8 and non-alcoholic beverages, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products); and the supply chain and administrative support operations for Food and Medicine Stores. Food and Medicine Stores also includes stores that sell groceries or medicine, including medication not requiring a medical prescription, and also that sell other non-grocery products and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activity, and Essential Services;

7. Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture. This includes, but is not limited to: food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, and cultivation, including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other agricultural production, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; and businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, shelters, kennels, and adoption facilities;

8. Organizations that Provide Charitable and Social Services. This includes, but is not limited to: businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations, including food banks, when providing food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or individuals otherwise in need, individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency, or persons with disabilities;

9. Religious and Ceremonial Functions. This includes, but is not limited to: religious facilities, entities, groups, personnel, services, rites, and gatherings, including weddings and funerals, provided that the Health Guidelines set forth in Executive Order No. 22 are followed to the greatest extent practicable;

10. Media. This includes, but is not limited to: newspapers, books, television, radio, publishing, and other media services and related supply chain operations;

11. Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation. This includes, but is not limited to: gas stations, travel centers, and truck stops; automotive suppliers, manufacturers, repair services, and related facilities; roadside assistance operations; farm and construction equipment related services; boat repair services; bicycle shops; and related facilities;

12. Financial Institutions and Insurance Entities. This includes, but is not limited to: banks, currency exchanges, consumer lenders, including but not limited to payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders, sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, institutions selling financial products, insurance companies, underwriters, insurance agents, insurance brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services;

13. Hardware and Supply Stores. This includes, but is not limited to: Hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, and heating materials; 9

14. Critical Trades. This includes, but is not limited to: building and construction tradesmen and tradeswomen and other trades, including, but not limited to, plumbers, electricians, exterminators and pest control, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other manufacturing, distribution, retail or service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activity, and Essential Services, including electronic security and life safety services to assist with fire prevention and response, security, and emergency management and response;

15. Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pick-up Services. This includes, but is not limited to: post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services and businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, goods, vehicles, or services to end users or through commercial channels;

16. Educational Institutions. This includes, but is not limited to: public and private pre-K schools, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, providing food or shelter, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, provided that the Health Guidelines set forth in Executive Order No. 22 are followed to the greatest extent practicable. Schools providing food services to students or members of the public shall provide the food on a carry-out basis only and shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, consistent with Executive Order Nos. 17 and 21;

17. Laundry Services. This includes, but is not limited to: laundromats, dry cleaners, industrial laundry services, and laundry service providers;

18. Restaurants for Off-Premises Consumption. This includes, but is not limited to: restaurants, bars, or other similar food or drink establishments that prepare and serve food, but only for consumption off-premises, consistent with Executive Order Nos. 17 and 21. Entities providing food services to members of the public shall provide the food on a carry-out basis only and shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided or at any other gathering site. This paragraph is consistent with and does not supersede Executive Order Nos. 17 and 21;

19. Supplies to Work from Home. This includes, but is not limited to: businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply products necessary for persons to work from home or engage in distance learning;

20. Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations. This includes, but is not limited to: businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other Essential Services with the support or materials necessary to operate, including computers; audio and video electronics; household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; hardware; paint; flat glass; electrical, plumbing, and heating material; sanitary equipment; personal hygiene products; food and food additives, ingredients, and components; medical and orthopedic equipment; optics and photography equipment; diagnostics, food, and 10 beverages, chemicals, soaps, and detergent; and firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for purposes of safety and security;

21. Transportation. This includes, but is not limited to: airlines, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, marinas, docks, boat storage, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers necessary for Essential Activity or Essential Services under Executive Order No. 22;

22. Home-based Care and Services. This includes, but is not limited to: home-based care for adults, seniors, children, or persons with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, or mental illness; and caregivers, including nannies, who may travel to a home to provide care or other in-home services, including meal delivery;

23. Residential Facilities and Shelters. This includes, but is not limited to: Residential facilities and shelters for adults, seniors, children, pets, or persons with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, or mental illness;

24. Professional Services. This includes, but is not limited to: legal services, accounting services, insurance services, or real estate services (including appraisal and title services);

25. Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain for Critical Products and Industries. This includes, but is not limited to: manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, health care, chemicals, sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture and agricultural products, food and beverage, household consumer products, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, defense and national defense, and communications, as well as products used by or component parts of other Essential Services;

26. Hotels and Motels. This includes, but is not limited to: hotels, motels, lodges, dormitories, and short-term rentals, to the extent used for lodging and delivery or carryout food and beverage services;

27. Funeral Services. This includes, but is not limited to: funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery, and related services;

28. Any business related to Essential Activity, as defined in Executive Order No. 22, including any outdoor recreation area, park, site, or trail that provides opportunities for outdoor recreation while maintaining adherence to the Health Guidelines;

29. Any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten (10) or fewer persons accessing the premises of the business or organization at a time, including 11 employees, customers, and other visitors; provided, that the premises allows for operation within the Health Guidelines and that such Health Guidelines are followed at all times; or

30. The minimum necessary activities required to maintain any business or organization, whether otherwise essential or not, including:

a. Maintaining the value of the business’s or organization’s inventory;
b. Preserving the condition of the business’s or organization’s physical plant and equipment, livestock, or other assets;
c. Ensuring the security of the business or organization;
d. Processing the business’s or organization’s mail, payroll, and employee benefits;
e. Facilitating employees of the business or organization being able to continue to work remotely from their residences; or
f. Conducting any functions related to these activities.  

26 Responses to So what’s essential? A look at Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Thank God for good government jobs in this time period

  • John says:

    Let the Chief Medical Officer speak!! Why is the politically appointed commissioner of the Department of Health and Bill Lee silencing the experts?!

  • Not Stuart Anderson says:

    I can’t think of a single business that I patronize that is not “essential” as defined by this list. Perhaps it would have been easier to list what is supposed to close. I can’t imagine it would be very long. Perhaps the aroma I smell is that of the lobbyists’ cologne???

    • MARLE says:

      You’ll be able to tell when Q2 earnings come out which public companies were on US Governors naughty and nice list. TJX will be hurt since they have been shut down in most states for weeks. Target Walmart and Costco which sell the same items are allowed to open.

  • George Grayson says:

    This list is ridiculous. You have essentially said everything is open. Did you consult with a single person in the medical field about this list? Are you really concerned with containing this or are just willing to sacrifice thousands so a few people can go to church on Sunday?

  • Randall Rice says:

    Is there anything that is nit essential? This declaration is worthless.

  • JUDY R says:

    Even in this crisis when all Tennesseans are supposed to be pulling together, all you guys want to do is criticize, criticize, etc………………………..

  • JM says:

    What a joke of an Executive Order!!!! Why not just exempt everyone??

  • So no change really. Cannot believe the disaster this administration is causing our state.

  • Karen H. Butler says:

    This is such a sad joke. Lives are at risk and he does absolutely nothing. He needs to man up.

  • James White says:

    @GovBillLee #LeeTheTyrant

  • James White says:

    Your God-given rights cannot be revoked by government via any emergency loophole! The Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”

  • Holly Clelland says:

    What is NOT essential is crowds of people at Walmart and Loews every single day. This must stop. Please do something!

  • Harold -Cates says:

    This looks like typical political garbage. Reminds me of a political speech-standup-speak up-but and say nothing, I would like to know what is closed. This still looks like political garbage.

  • BlueLady says:

    I am not sure anything would be closed according to this list.

    • MARLE says:

      Every store, movie theater, arcade, and restaurant at Opry Mills in other words the whole place. Ditto that for Riverside, Cool Springs etc.

  • Naomi Stewart says:

    This list is way too vague and leaves way too much open. This is not going to help reduce the number of cases in our area. The specifications should be more detailed. Like exterminators… They should only be allowed to service critical places, like food service, hospitals, etc. Think of how many people employed by those places are still going into people’s homes multiple times a day! Good way to spread around this deadly virus to the community and to their workers. Especially to elderly folks like me, I’ll be suspending all my at home services until this is over with! That should not be allowed for public safety in general! Residential services should not be allowed during a mandatory quarantine! That’s nuts and makes absolutely no sense! Come on Governor Lee, what are you thinking???

  • Donna Locke says:

    This list is funny. My husband and I are high risk but not obsessing. I shall venture out at dawn once again to search for toilet paper since Bill Lee has not done loaves and fishes on it.

  • Gina says:

    So if a bar down town sells toilet paper they would be able to open as long as everyone stays 6ft apart?

  • Rachel says:

    Landscape maintenance? Essential? Really? Spoiled much?

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    The big question is……what business closed? Looks like everyone open

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