Governor issues safer-at-home order free of shelter-in-place mandate

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Gov. Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee signed a “stay-at-home” executive order Thursday, requiring citizens to stay home except for limited essential activity or services.

Gov. Bill Lee issued a safer-at-home executive order Monday, which advises but does not mandate Tennessee residents to stay at home. 

“The scope and the magnitude of this pandemic continues to challenge every nation in the world and every government across the world,” Lee said. 

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, as of 2 p.m. Monday, Tennessee has 1,834 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 111 of which are determined to be in Williamson County, and there have been 13 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.  

The governor explained the state is looking into ways to legally report deaths per county. 

While the virus has reportedly penetrated 77 of the state’s 95 counties, the governor’s order closes all nonessential businesses throughout the state, which he defines as those that “cannot possibly safely operate during this COVID-19 crisis,” including barber shops and salons and recreational and entertainment facilities. 

“This is not a mandated shelter-in-place order, because it’s deeply important to me that we remain a state that protects personal liberties,” Lee said. “But it is a strong urging for Tennesseans to stay home when at all possible, because I also believe that with personal liberty comes personal responsibility.” 

He urged those who have the ability to stay at home to do so. 

“We need you to do that to protect the lives of your neighbors and protect the lives of Tennesseans, to protect the wellbeing of our health care workers and our essential employees and vulnerable populations like the elderly in Tennessee,” he said. 

Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, said the state is concerned about the rising number of coronavirus cases amongst its elderly population. While the most confirmed cases lie within the 21-30 age range, with 462 confirmed cases, more than 36% of confirmed cases have been found in patients over age 50. 

Lee explained while this order does not force people to stay in their homes, he believes by closing nonessential businesses he takes away any reason for people to unsafely leave their residences. He said he hopes people will change their habits in order to bring the pandemic to an end as soon as possible. 

“Your habits and your routines can make the difference as we work to swiftly defeat COVID-19,” he said. “We will work together to establish new habits like safely supporting Tennessee businesses — ordering takeout or shopping online or shopping for essentials at the grocery in normal quantities and resisting the urge to panic buy. The faster we blunt the surge of this spread, the faster we all get to go back to work.” 

For more information on COVID-19 on the state level, visit

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