bill lee executive orders

Governor’s ban on nonessential businesses met with confusion

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order to shut down nonessential businesses around the state to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus carried a 2,250-word attachment outlining which commercial activities would be exempted from coverage.

That has led to a chorus of questions about which commercial activities exactly are covered by the ban, and whether looser state guidelines would supercede stricter local rules. The second question is the easier one to answer. According to Lee’s executive order: “Nothing herein repeals, preempts, or otherwise limits the authority, if any, of a locality to issue further orders or measures on these same subjects.”

As for the which companies are covered by the blanket ban, Lee’s previous orders have specifically targeted restaurants (except for takeout and delivery) and gyms. The governor also issued a separate executive order Monday listing more businesses as having to close (in addition to the ones earlier ordered).

Businesses to be shuttered include those performing close-contact personal services, such as:

  • Barber shops.
  • Hair salons.
  • Waxing salons.
  • Threading salons.
  • Nail salons or spas.
  • Spas providing body treatments.
  • Body-art facilities or tattoo services.
  • Tanning salons.
  • Massage-therapy establishments or massage services.

Also closed are entertainment and recreational gathering venues, such as:

  • Night clubs.
  • Bowling alleys.
  • Arcades.
  • Concert venues.
  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, or similar facilities.
  • Racetracks.
  • Indoor children’s play areas.
  • Adult entertainment venues.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Roller or ice skating rinks.