Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Tennessee, US, encourage residents to remain at home through May 29, lift restrictions on additional businesses starting May 1.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tennessee
  • Jackson, Tennessee
  • Clarksville, Tennessee

This alert began 01 May 2020 15:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Tennessee (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Tennessee Governor William Lee has issued an executive order encouraging residents to remain at home as much as possible, and maintaining certain restrictions on businesses, through at least May 29, as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to the order, residents are strongly encouraged to limit time outside of home, and limit interaction with other people as much as possible, as well as to wear face coverings when in public. Gatherings of ten people or more will remain banned.

Authorities have also lifted restrictions on multiple businesses. The lifting of restrictions applies to 89 of the state's 95 counties. In Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan, local authorities will determine what restrictions to impose. Starting May 1, gyms and training facilities will be allowed to reopen. They must restrict occupancy to a maximum 50 percent of its capacity and close showers and locker rooms. Starting May 6, close-contact businesses, such as barbershops, hair salons, and massage therapy sessions, will be allowed to reopen, limiting the number of customers to 50 percent of the facility's capacity, offer services by appointment only, and closing waiting areas. All businesses must ensure social distancing, enhance sanitation, and encourage the use of face masks and other protective equipment for employees and customers. Employers should screen the workers' health and not allow them to work if they have symptoms related to COVID-19.

Since April 27, authorities have allowed restaurants to reopen, provided they comply with certain special requirements. Dining facilities must operate at no more than half their seating capacity; employees must wear protective face masks and gloves, and establishments must implement a number of other sanitation and social distancing protocols. Since April 29, retail stores have been allowed to open subject to their compliance with similar capacity, sanitation, and protective gear protocols. Places of worship may also operate. Other nonessential businesses, such as entertainment venues, must remain closed.

Authorities in Davidson County, which includes the city of Nashville, have maintained orders for residents to remain at home, most businesses to remain closed through at least May 8, while officials in Knox, Madison, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Shelby counties have lifted numerous restrictions on businesses, starting May 4.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely statewide. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the remaining restrictions. Officials could amend the orders on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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