Governor Bill Lee announced the order for Tennesseans to remain at home will expire April 30, with the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties allowed to re-open on May 1.
The announcement was made Monday during his COVID-19 briefing.
"Our Economic Recovery Group is working with industry leaders around the clock so that some businesses can open as soon as Monday, April 27," said Gov. Lee. "These businesses will open according to specific guidance that we will provide in accordance with state and national experts in both medicine and business."
The Lee Administration will work with Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties and their health departments as they plan their own re-open strategies.
"While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible," said Lee. "Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it."
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. More information about ERG is available here.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will sign Executive Order 23 requiring that Tennesseans stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities as data shows an increase in citizen movement across the state.
"Over the last few weeks, we have seen decreases in movement around the state as Tennesseans socially distance and stay at home," said Gov. Lee. "However, in recent days we have seen data indicating that movement may be increasing and we must get these numbers trending back down. I have updated my previous executive order to clearly require that Tennesseans stay at home unless they are carrying out essential activities."
Data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation analyzed traffic patterns for March 2020. While safer at home measures and further restrictions on businesses showed a steep drop-off in vehicle movement from March 13-29, data beginning on March 30 indicates travel is trending upwards, again.
The Administration also analyzed data from Unacast to understand cell phone mobility and determine movement trends among people. Unacast indicates the movement of Tennesseans is trending toward pre-COVID-19 levels.
"The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases," said Lee. "Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives."
The executive order remains in effect until April 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Gov. Lee will address these measures in the press briefing today at 3 p.m. CDT.
April stands to be a very tough month for Tennessee.-- Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) April 2, 2020
COVID-19 is an imminent threat, and we need you to understand that staying home isn't an option - it is a requirement for the swift defeat of this pandemic.
Plus, more from today's media briefing. pic.twitter.com/NpWxXgT6Al
Governor Lee says Tennessee is planning for a surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks:
The governor says they currently have less hospital beds than will be needed for an expected surge around the April 20th time frame. This plan will bring up thousands of additional beds and could include using convention centers, hotels, college dorms and the like to help.
Governor Lee also addressed the "safer at home" directive. Some in the medical community are asking for him to issue a shelter in place order:
The governor says the most important action Tennesseans can take is to stay at home:
During the media briefing Wednesday, it was also mentioned that 45-minute coronavirus testing could begin in Tennessee as early as the end of the week.