Tennessee to allow large attractions to reopen, lift limits on restaurants and stores

Large Tennessee attractions can start reopening next Friday, while restaurants and retail stores will no longer have to limit their capacity as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.

The attractions in question include racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters, museums, and auditoriums. The announcement comes a day after NASCAR announced plans to hold a race at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend without any fans present.

Here’s the full release from the governor’s office:

Nashville, Tenn. – As Tennessee continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the state’s Economic Recovery Group announced today it will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail to instead focus on social distancing best practices effective May 22 and issue guidelines to facilitate the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions on or after May 22. New Tennessee Pledge guidelines will be released early next week. Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments.

“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen. Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Our state continues to see downward trends in case growth and meets the White House criteria for a phased reopening. This progress has been hard-won, and we can build upon it by reopening while also maintaining common-sense safety measures like mask-wearing and good hygiene. By taking the Tennessee Pledge, our businesses can reopen in a way that protects the health of their customers and employees, and protects the livelihoods of hard-working Tennesseans.”

The new Large Attractions guidance applies to those businesses that can effectively practice social distancing with strong measures to protect both employees and customers, including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums and more. Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place for the time being. Updates to Restaurant Guidance will include a lift on capacity restrictions, allowing for increased service as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to, including 6 feet between tables. 

The updated guidelines come as Tennessee continues to meet the White House state gating criteria for phased reopening. The gating criteria include:

  • Symptoms
    • Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period; AND
    • Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic (CLI) cases reported within a 14-day period
  • Cases
    • Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period; OR
    • Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)
  • Hospitals
    • Treat all patients without crisis care; AND
    • Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing


Hospital capacity remains sufficient to meet the needs of patients, while the state continues to meet the goal of testing 2 percent of the population per month.

The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), composed of 30 leaders from the public and private sector, is crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. The industry representatives participating in the ERG collectively represent over 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ over 2.5M Tennesseans. 

27 Responses to Tennessee to allow large attractions to reopen, lift limits on restaurants and stores

  • MARLE says:

    Love that the date-line of the release from the governor’s office is Nashville, TN where we won’t even be able to go back to the Y or any gym until mid-June IF stats improve week over week. Otherwise it could be longer.

    Bet ya the ever-present Mayoral contender is watching for her chance—Again— in a few years. Third time’s a charm.

    • Phil Lassiter says:

      If you’re talking about cyclops Swain then you’re way wrong

      • James White says:

        I would never support Carol Swain because of her position on Muslims.

        • Eddie White says:

          Yea, she is against radical Islamic terrorist . What a dangerous candidate!

        • Phil Lassiter says:

          Agreed. Muslims need to run our state. They have contributed much more to society than has western civilization

          • James White says:

            Yes it is true, they have contributed, Nobel prizes and all. They do not need to run our state and never will. Should Jews run our state? Should Catholics run our state? Should atheists run our state? The enemy of our state is Immorality and Collectivism. If they are not in control then the state is in good hands.
            By the way, Western civilization was built on science and science is built on mathematics. Who invented Algebra? The greatest scientist that ever lived (Newton), used algebra…. just saying…
            By the way, two members of Congress in West Tennessee are Jewish. I do not see that as a problem, do you Phil?

        • James White says:

          There is a difference between Radical Islamic Terrorist (trained in Moscow) and plain Muslims.

  • James White says:

    The damage that #LeeTheTyrant has done to our state will not be fixed by opening up everything now. Where are the Goods that would have been produced had they not be Unconstitutionally ordered to close and stay home? They may get unemployment money, but what will they buy?
    Open everything, that would be good, but the damage done is immoral.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      But James, we should be thankful that we are not governed by the liberal control freaks that the voters of Main, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc. have inflicted upon themselves. You can tell Lee is hedging toward personal freedom as much as he can without having our homegrown liberals clutching their pearls. He’s no Brian Kemp (Georgia) but all and all – not bad.

  • John W Niven Jr says:

    Lassiter, If you think Muslim rule is so great, why don’t you just move to Pakistan ?

  • LeeAnn C. says:

    I would love to have Kristi Noem as governor. She understands protecting the rights of individuals and business owners!

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      We’ll check back with you in about six years from today LeeAnn. Now about that First District race. . . .

      • LeeAnn C. says:

        Kristi Noem – South Dakota governor that correctly chose protecting liberties. I don’t know what you’re talking about in 6 years? Just wishful thinking on my part since we’re stuck with Bill Lee until 2022. He certainly fooled a lot of people with his campaign implying he had Libertarian tendencies. The 1st District race is a mess! The field is SO crowded.

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Lee will certainly be re-elected in 2022. Tennesseans don’t like to change officeholders unless there is a strong reason to do so. Lee is not sure of what he is doing so he won’t strike out and give the voters such a strong reason so we won’t have to worry about Governor until 2026 when Lee’s second term ends.

          The First District race is THE most important race for conservatives in the August Republican primary. It couldn’t be clearer as to what’s at stake. We are getting rid of Phil Roe (Heritage-70%), one of Tennessee’s two tepid conservative congressmen, with a chance to replace him with House Freedom Caucus endorsed Timothy Hill (ACU-88%). If conservatives from around the state will only send Timothy their financial support to get it done.

          • LeeAnn C. says:

            People do have short memories. I’ve heard so many former supporters of Bill Lee express “buyer’s remorse”, highly escalating with his opt-in for refugee resettlement and continuing. He’s managed to alienate district attorneys across the state with his form of criminal justice reform. Some are hard at work to look for praise in his handling of the coronavirus “crisis”, comparing to worse off states, such as Michigan. Instead, his liberty squashing executive orders should speak for themselves. Economic devastation that was entirely at his hand. He’s absolutely insane to abuse emergency powers in this way.

            Tennesseans can rest assured that the first district representative will be an R. Your blind loyalty to ACU scores doesn’t include any scale for flawed character. The Hill brother ties to the morally bankrupt Creepy Casada cannot be ignored. There’s an element of the “love of money” in their dealings for the failed promotion of M. Hill to speaker. I don’t live in the 1st district, but Hill would be close to my last choice.

            For myself, a much bigger issue is to direct our state legislators to curb the blanket authority of a governor that he/she can self-authorize by emergency declaration for up to 60 days, then extend – again autonomously. Governor Lee, the self-proclaimed limited government candidate, has certainly provided plenty of evidence for needed change in TN law!

          • Phil Lassiter says:

            Stuart, you should be so supportive of all candidates that you say are conservative. Especially those that have higher than an 88% think tank heritage score. Don’t say you are because you ARE NOT

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            1. In the face of this Chinese flu, unfortunately thanks to the New Deal, Americans automatically look to the government, and most unfortunately the federal government. Trump rightly acted reluctantly at first and has been subject to criticism for that fact. As much as possible, like a good right-winger that he is, he lateraled as much as possible to the states to make the decision as to life-style limitations. Now what would you have Lee do once the virus came to Tennessee? Be the only state in the nation with any significant population that relied on herd immunity? If so, I think you’re asking too much. I voted for Diane Black. I have no love for Lee, especially after his immigration fiasco. Come up with a conservative opponent and I will consider him, but please don’t get your heart set on Lee being a one-term Tennessee governor, we hardly ever have one of those in Tennessee.

            2. Elections are about the future not the past other than the past allowing us to predict the future. ACU/Heritage scores are simply a mathematical indication of the voting record of the officeholder. They aren’t conjured up on a Ouija Board. As conservatives our problem is that the average Heritage score of Democrats is in the single digits, for Republican its a far more moderate 60%+. Bottom line – the Democrats are a heck of a lot more liberal than the Republicans are conservative so we need to get a conservative into that First District seat now that we have a chance because these chances don’t arise very often. Timothy will be a solid conservative vote in the House, so will David Hawk though everyone I speak to who knows both men and the House Freedom Caucus prefer Timothy. Support David if you prefer, but please don’t be indifferent to the extent that you just as soon see a No Record Townie win. Look at all the fun you’re having being governed by former No Record Candidate Bill Lee!

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Phil, are you saying that we should support David Hawk because he has an ACU score of 89% vs. Timothy Hill’s 88%? If so, I guess I will lose my distinction of being the most fanatical follower of the ACU/Heritage scorecards of all responders to this blog to you.
            I assure you Phil, if David wins I will be just as happy as if Timothy wins because we will have done what we must do, continue replacing centrist/tepid conservative Republicans with conservatives. I just am with all who think Timothy is the more reliable means to that end.

          • James White says:

            #LeeTheTyrant’s opt-in for refugee resettlement is not a big deal with me. If the Feds want to resettle them here there is nothing the state/county/city do to stop it.
            But the rest of LeeAnn’s rant is pretty good.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Somehow I think Trump gave the states the option of opting into the program of refugee resettlement mistakenly thinking the Republican governors would take the opportunity to opt out. Of course, he was mistaken because a bunch of the Chamber of Commerce shills opted in though our Gov. the Right Rev. Lee opted in for religious reasons. Whether I have this exactly right or not I don’t like Lee’s attitude about the matter so if LeeAnn comes up with a conservative sacrificial lamb to sacrifice in 2022 in a fruitless race against Lee I just might vote for him.

          • James White says:

            Yes Trump did do that, but would he fight for it ? I doubt it. either way, the state/county/city has no say, if big brother wants to play

        • Cannoneer2 says:

          Well Noehm isn’t protecting the liberties of Native Americans to protect their own land.

      • Phil Lassiter says:

        Your hypocrisy runs much deeper, Stuart. And more than a few know it. It’s ok though. No one dealing in politics seems to be honest all the time. Still love ya

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Well, at least I’m in good company. The House Freedom Caucus and every conservative I know who has had continuing contacts with both David and Timothy support Timothy Hill for that First District race even though David Hawk beats him by one American Conservative Union point. I don’t think that declaring we are conservative, then choosing one proven conservative candidate out of three that are running, since only one can win, makes us hypocrites.

          According to the dictionary a “hypocrite” is “one who affects qualities or virtues he does not have.” In this case we are being entirely consistent. We are conservatives and we are supporting a conservative candidate. You seem to be anxious to call those with whom you disagree a bad name. Dictionaries aren’t that expensive Phil. Perhaps someone can buy you one for Christmas so you at least can choose a name that indicates that you know what the name means.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Lee has lost 500,000 jobs in TN. This officially and without a doubt makes him the worse Governor probably forever Insane that he would even stand for re-election. He should resign. A good Christian would so they could reflect on their transgressions in causing so much misery

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