Proceed with caution: Shelby County to start back reopening in May


Star Staff Reports

Despite news coming down from Nashville April 20, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced the next day that his city would not reopen until at least May 5.
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 reopen on May 1. 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.
Strickland said April 21 the city’s stay-at-home order will be extended through May 5. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Strickland appointed the five-member team of business and health professionals with the responsibility of developing a plan to safely reopen the local economy.
Certain medical benchmarks need to be considered, like a decrease in positive tests, more testing and more contact tracing, before reopening in Memphis and Shelby County. The task force meets daily and is working on a final report that will be presented to the mayors.
“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 Gov. 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, 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 at—lee-establishes-economic-recovery-group-to-reboot-tennessee-economy.html
Lee provided an update on Tennessee’s efforts regarding COVID-19 relief later in the week.
The Tennessee Pledge: Reopening Tennessee Responsibly
Lee and the Economic Recovery Group issued first steps from the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first industries to receive guidance through the plan include the restaurant and retail industries.
Restaurant Industry Guidance can be downloaded here, Retail Industry Guidance can be downloaded here, and General Guidance for Tennessee Businesses can be downloaded here.
Additionally, a comprehensive summary of this guidance can be downloaded here.
Lee and the Economic Recovery Group will provide specific guidance for additional Tennessee industries in the coming weeks.
Executive Order 29
Executive Order 29 amends Executive Order 17 to reopen dining in restaurants beginning at 12:01 CDT Monday, April 27. Subject to the expectation that restaurants will operate within ERG Guidelines, on-site dining at restaurants will no longer be prohibited in Tennessee, unless a locally run county health department in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby, or Sullivan Counties independently prohibits or otherwise regulates the opening, closing, or operation of restaurants within its respective county.
If a restaurant does not operate in a safe manner, or if health outcomes demonstrate that a particular business or industry sector is unable to be operated in a sufficiently safe manner, the Governor and/or other applicable state official(s) may issue additional orders concerning that business or industry.
Bars, nightclubs, and limited service restaurants shall continue to be closed to persons for the purposes of eating or drinking on-site. Take-out and delivery alcohol sales by restaurants remain permitted.
Tennessee’s expanded COVID-19 testing continues this past weekend, with the Department of Health and the Tennessee National Guard opened 18 additional drive-through sites across the state (April 25-26).
We encourage every Tennessean who isn’t feeling well or has been in close contact with someone positive for COVID-19, to visit a free testing site in their community.
Tennessee Department of Health nurses and Tennessee National Guard medics will perform tests at these drive-through sites and results are projected to be delivered to participants within 72 hours of testing. In addition to drive-through testing sites, Tennesseans can get a test free of charge, five days a week at every rural county health department in the state.
Drive-through testing sites will also be available during the weekend of May 2-3. A full list of sites is available at