Gov. Bill Lee signed  three new executive orders  Monday aimed at combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Tennessee.

Gov. Lee’s office announced that he had signed Executive Order No. 50 “to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to August 29, 2020. The order allows for the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures within the orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations.” 

Gov. Lee’s office also saying he had signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, “which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to August 29, 2020.”

So what do these new executive orders mean?
According to the executive order information page on the state’s website,  Executive Order No. 50  extends previous provisions that:
  • Urge Tennesseans to continue limiting activity and staying home where possible, as well as following health guidelines and maintaining social distancing;
  • Urge persons to wear a cloth face covering in places where in close proximity to others;
  • Urge employers to allow or require remote work/telework if possible;
  • Provide that persons with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms are required to stay at home, and that employers may not require or allow employees with COVID-19 to work;
  • Limit social and recreational gatherings of 50 or more persons, unless adequate social distancing can be maintained (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments may issue different directives on gatherings)
  • This does not apply to places of worship, for which there are guidelines for safe operation of worship services and gatherings, though places of worship are urged to continue virtual or online services where possible;
  • This does not apply to weddings, funerals, and related events, but encourages postponement of large-gathering components of such events;
  • Limit nursing home and long-term-care facility visitation, while providing a framework for safe, limited visitation set forth in Executive Order No. 49, and continue the closure of senior centers

There are more provisions involving bars, restaurants, health care facilities and procedures are also touched upon in the new executive order; a more complete list of measures extended beyond June 30 “to promote regulatory flexibility, facilitate social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and support supply chains and health care providers includes” —  can be found on the state’s website.

Executive Order No. 16, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 34, which allows governing bodies to meet electronically regarding essential business as long as they provide electronic access to the public and meet the safeguards established in that order to ensure openness and transparency, is extended through August 29 to ensure that governmental entities are able to carry out essential business in a safe, transparent way without creating large gatherings in a confined space and endangering persons, particularly those at increased risk of suffering severe illness from COVID-19, while determinations of how best to return to safe, in-person governmental meetings remain ongoing.

Executive Order No. 26, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 37, which allows for remote notarization and witnessing of documents, subject to compliance with certain procedures, is extended through August 29 to ensure that persons, and particularly populations especially vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and persons with compromised immune systems or serious chronic medical conditions, can continue to engage in commerce and execute legal documents without requiring in-person contact.
The state Department of Revenue has added more information about business relief payment amounts and eligibility notices to the  Tennessee Business Relief Program website .

  • Eligibility notifications will be sent to businesses beginning the last week of June. Once notified, businesses will be prompted to complete an online pre-award certification form in order to verify their eligibility criteria and agree to the program’s payment guidelines. Business owners who do not have online access will be asked to complete a paper certification form.
  • Once the certification form has been completed and a business’ eligibility is confirmed, the department will issue a business relief payment. Payments for eligible businesses will be issued beginning the first week of July.
  • Business relief payment amounts will be based on the annual gross sales of the business. There’s more information here.

According to the Revenue Department’s FAQ, funds received from the Tennessee Business Relief Program should be used to respond to the financial disruption resulting from COVID-19 and its effects on your business. Funds must not be used for payment of tax liabilities to a government agency. Businesses must also keep records regarding how the funds are spent.

The FAQ states that businesses that accept the funds acknowledge and agree that they are subject to potential audit or other verification by the State of Tennessee concerning the qualification for and use of these funds. Funds are subject to recapture by the State of Tennessee if payment requirements are not met.

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center has added consultants in the areas of financial, digital marketing and human resources to assist businesses with one-on-one virtual consultations.

If you are in need of assistance, please visit , to request free advising or call 865-246-2663 to coordinate the next steps.