Updated: May 8, 2020

Most businesses in the State have been permitted to reopen if specific protocols are followed as set forth in the new Order. However, a fairly long list of businesses, mostly those which require close-contact or are centered around entertainment, must remain closed. Such businesses include barber shops, tattoo parlors, concert venues, bowling alleys, and theaters. The Order strongly urges that all employers and businesses to take steps to the “greatest extent practicable” to equip, encourage, allow, or require and permit employees to work remotely or via telework from home and observe the Health Guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to the greatest extent practicable. All employer and businesses are expected to comply with the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group guidelines (see link in Key Documents).

Local counties with county health departments may issue more strict local orders.  Counties without local health departments must abide by this Order.

Updated: April 20, 2020

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that its current stay at home order will expire on April 30, 2020, with “the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties allowed to re-open” on May 1, 2020. Though no specific additional details have been provided, the Governor’s office indicated that his administration will work with various counties as well as the state’s Economic Recovery Group in crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. 

Updated: April 10, 2020

Tennessee Executive Order No. 27, issued on April 10, 2020, extends through April 30, 2020, the effective dates of both Executive Order Nos. 22 and 23 (among others), which closed certain non-essential public facing businesses, provided definitions for and examples of Essential Activities and Essential Services through an attachment to the order, and mandated stay at home provisions.  Order No. 27 also extends through April 30, 2020, the social distancing, stay at home, and other provisions of various executive orders. 

Executive Order Nos. 23 & 22

Executive Summary

Tennessee Executive Order No. 23, issued on April 2, 2020, requires all persons in Tennessee to stay at home except when engaging in Essential Activity or Essential Services, both which are defined in the prior order, Executive Order No. 22.  Under both orders, non-essential businesses may not be open for public access and use, but may have limited operations outside the business (e.g., delivery and curbside services).  “Essential Services” is broadly defined and includes the CISA List as well as dozens of additional categories, including any business operating with 10 or fewer persons on premises. Essential Activities is also broadly defined, and includes certain kinds of Essential Travel (which includes travel to/from outside the state) as well as obtaining consumer products and visiting places of worship.

Summary of Order

  • EO 23 was issued on April 2, 2020 to amend EO 22. Whereas EO 22 had urged Tennesseans to stay at home, EO 23 now requires it except when engaging in Essential Activity or Essential Services.
  • EO 22, issued on March 30, 2020, also closed certain non-essential public facing businesses and provided definitions for and examples of Essential Activities and Essential Services through an attachment to the order.
  • EO 22 and 23 are in effect through 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time on April 14, 2020. 
  • Businesses or organizations that do not perform Essential Services may not be open for access or use by the public or its members, though such businesses or organizations may operate (and are strongly encouraged to do so) by way of online/telephone and delivery services outside of the business or organization. Building on prior EOs, EO 22 had specifically closed a number of public facing retail businesses (e.g., grooming services, entertainment and recreational venues).
  • For purposes of the orders, Essential Activity means:
    • Activities essential to a person’s health and safety
    • Obtaining necessary services or supplies, including household consumer products
    • Delivery or curbside carry-out delivery of online or telephone orders
    • Engaging in outdoor activity pursuant to Health Guidelines
    • Caring for or visiting a family member, friend, or pet in another household
    • Visiting a place of worship or attending a wedding or funeral
    • Engaging in Essential Travel
  • Essential Travel, for purposes of the orders, means travel:
    • Related to Essential Activity or otherwise permitted by EO 22;
    • Related to performing Essential Services;
    • To care for the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons;
    • To or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
    • To and from outside of the State of Tennessee; or
    • Required by law, law enforcement, or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.
  • “Essential services” for purposes of the orders includes personnel in Version 2.0 of the CISA List as well as the following (each of which contains numerous examples):
    • Health Care and Public Health Operations;
    • Human Services Operations;
    • Essential Infrastructure Operations;
    • Essential Government Functions;
    • Food and Medicine Stores;
    • Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture;
    • Organizations that Provide Charitable and Social Services;
    • Religious and Ceremonial Functions;
    • Media;
    • Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation;
    • Financial Institutions and Insurance Entities;
    • Hardware and Supply Stores;
    • Critical Trades;
    • Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pick-up Services;
    • Educational Institutions;
    • Laundry Services;
    • Restaurants for Off-Premises Consumption;
    • Supplies to Work from Home;
    • Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations;
    • Transportation;
    • Home-based Care and Services;
    • Residential Facilities and Shelters;
    • Professional Services;
    • Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain for Critical Products and Industries;
    • Hotels and Motels;
    • Any business related to Essential Activity;
    • Any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten (10) or fewer persons accessing the premises of the business or organization at a time; and
    • Minimum necessary activities required to maintain any business or organization (essential or otherwise, including:
      • Maintaining the value of the business’s or organization’s inventory;
      • Preserving the condition of the business’s or organization’s physical plant and equipment, livestock, or other assets;
      • Ensuring the security of the business or organization;
      • Processing the business’s or organization’s mail, payroll, and employee benefits;
      • Facilitating employees of the business or organization being able to continue to work remotely from their residences; or
      • Conducting any functions related to these activities.

Social Distancing Requirements

The orders generally impose its Health Guidelines, which refers to:

  • Maintaining a distance of at least six (6) feet between themselves and others, except for family or household members; and
  • Practicing good personal hygiene, including washing hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface, avoiding touching the face, and disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.


The orders provide no specific enforcement detail besides the orders remaining enforceable through April 14, 2020.


Critical infrastructure sectors listed in CISA guidance (check list at link above for detailed list of worker functions):

  • Healthcare / Public Health
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and Other First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy — Natural Gas, Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), Propane, and Other Liquid Fuels
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community- or Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services
  • Hygiene Products and Services