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.

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Nashville bars to be shut down, restaurants limited to 100 guests

Nashville Mayor John Cooper is planning to shut down Nashville bars to help stem the spread of  the coronavirus, but restaurants will be able to remain open in a restricted capacity.

Under Cooper’s order, establishments where food makes up less than half of revenues, must close their doors. Restaurants are limited to seating half of their capacity, or up to 100 guests. Bar service at such restaurants is also limited to 50 percent of capacity and no standing is allowed.

State law includes a provision for “limited service restaurants” for the purpose of applying for a liquor-by-the-drink license. They are defined as deriving less than 50% of gross revenue from the sales of food (excluding “prepared food, chips, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and other similar snack items.”)

So what makes a bar that derives, say, 40% of its revenue from food more prone to spreading the virus than one that brings in 55% from dining service? It’s unclear. But videos like these have caused a widespread backlash against people crowding into downtown Nashville clubs amid the pandemic:

See the full release from the mayor’s office after the jump:

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