Federal, state and local governments have taken a range of approaches to limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus through stay-at-home orders and limiting operations at government agencies. The following information has been collected from public news sources.
• On March 12, issued Executive Order 14 to declare a state of emergency in Tennessee.
• On March 16, urged schools to close through March 31.
• On March 19, issued Executive Order 15 to declare a state of emergency in Tennessee, loosen licensing requirements for health care workers and extending deadlines for various state documents. Replaces Executive Order 14.
• On March 20, issued Executive Order 16 dealing with the functions of government during the pandemic.
• On March 22, issued Executive Order 17 limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people, discouraging eating out at restaurants or going to gyms, limits on access to nursing homes, encouraging working from home if possible and allowing restaurants to sell for take-out or deliver alcoholic beverages.
• On March 23, issued Executive Order 18 to postpone elective medical and dental procedures until April 13. (Date extended to April 30 in Executive Order 25)
• On March 24, issued Executive Order 19, ordering all schools to remain closed through April 24, activating the National Guard to assist with COVID-19 testing sites, extending drivers licenses expiring after March 12 until May 18, waiving emissions testing deadlines until May 18, extending the deadline for filing corporate franchise and excise taxes to July 15, and suspending the issuance of Real IDs through May 18 following the federal decision to delay implementation. On March 26, the Department of Homeland Security announced the new deadline to acquire a Real ID is now Oct. 1, 2021.
• On March 26, issued Executive Order 20 to expedite the mobilization of health workers; Executive Order 21 ordering the shut down of additional businesses; and Executive Order 22 implementing a "Safer at Home" order to run through April 14.
• On April 2, issued Executive Order 23 amending Executive Order 22 to require residents to stay at home unless engaging in essential activities or services through April 14. All other provisions remain the same. The Tennessean has more on the story.
• On April 4, issued Executive Order 24, extending a number of statutory and regulatory deadlines, and suspending a number of laws. Among the provisions of interest to lawyers, the order extended the due date of the professional privilege tax from June 1 to July 1.
• Noted that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and encouraged Tennesseans to be vigilant during this time of seclusion and social distancing to report any suspected abuse or neglect. Call the state hotline at 877-237-0004, go online to tn.gov/dcs or use the MyTN app to report.
• On April 8, issued Executive Order 25 to extend the postponement of elective medical and dental procedures (originally postponed in Executive Order 18) to April 30.
• On April 9, issued Executive Order 26 to facilitate remote notarization and witnessing of documents. Read the TBA Today post on the action.
• On April 13, issued Executive Order 27 extended the “stay at home” order, mandating non-essential businesses remain closed until April 30.
• On April 15, called for expanded COVID-19 testing effort for all Tennesseans, announced that schools would stay closed through the end of the academic year and created the COVID-19 Child Well Being Task Force.
• On April 16, announced the creation of a an Economic Recovery Group to guide a reboot of the economy and a Stimulus Financial Accountability Group to manage stimulus funds received through the CARES Act. Chattanoogan.com reports on both actions.
• On April 17, issued Executive Order 28 "to remove additional regulatory barriers to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19." Chattanoogan.com looks at the details.
• On April 20, the governor announced he will not renew his stay at home order, allowing it to expire on April 30, except in the following six counties where the state will work with mayors to determine a reopening date: Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby and Sullivan.
• On April 24, issued Executive Order 29, amending Order 17 to reopen dining in restaurants.
• On April 28, issued Executive Order 30, allowing Tennesseans to return to work while encouraging continued adherence to health guidelines.
• On April 29, issued Executive Order 31, limiting non-emergency dental procedures.
• On May 1, issued Executive Order 32, amending Order 15 and taking other measures to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19.
• On May 5, issued Executive Order 33, amending Order 30 to reopen close contact personal services pursuant to new safety guidelines.
• On May 6 issued Executive Order 34, extending authorization for electronic public meetings through June 30.
• On May 7, issued Executive Order 35, amending Order 30 to allow reopening of small group, non-contact entertainment and recreational venues pursuant to new safety guidelines.
• On May 12, issued Executive Order 36, extending the suspension of certain laws and rules to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19 and Executive Order 37, extending authorization for remote notarization and witnessing of documents until June 30.
• On May 22, issued Executive Order 38, expanding the number of Tennesseans who may return to work safely.
• On June 29, issued Executive Order 50 to extend the state of emergency, Order 51 to extend remote meetings and Order 52 to extend remote witnessing and notarization to Aug. 29.
• On July 1, issued Executive Order 53 providing COVID-19 civil liability protection to health care providers.
• On July 6, issued Executive Order 54 authorizing local governments to enact mask mandates.
• On July 31, issued Executive Order 55, extending local authority to order mask mandates.
• On Aug. 28, signed Executive Order 59, Order 60 and Order 61 to extend the state of emergency, remote witnessing and notarization, and remote meetings to Sept. 30.
• On Sept. 29, issued Executive Order 63 extending the state of emergency and local authority to enact mask mandates to Oct. 31 and Order 64 extending remote witnessing and notarization to the end of October. Read more from the governor's office.
• On Oct. 28, issued Executive Order 65 extending authorization for remote meetings and Executive Order 66 extending remote witnessing and notarization, both to the end of December.
On Oct. 28, issued Executive Order 67 extending previous orders to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19.
• On Oct. 28, issued Executive Order 68, allowing National Guard members to be mobilized as nurses, COVID-19 testers or ambulance drivers so long as they have the “appropriate training or skills” and the assignment is approved by the Guard and the state Health Commission.
On Dec. 21, issued Executive Order 70 to encourage people to stay at/work from home and wears masks, and limit the number who can gather in public place.
• On Dec. 22, issued Executive Order 71 which extends authority for remote meetings, Executive Order 72, which extends remote notarization and witnessing of documents, and Executive Order 73, which extends previous orders to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19, all through the end of February 2021.
Actions taken in 2021 include:
• On Jan. 19, issued Executive Order 74 to extend the state of emergency through Feb. 27, encourage people to continue working from home, and providing guidance to places of worship, wedding and funeral venues, and spectator sports and athletic activities.
• On Feb. 26, issued Executive Order 77 to extend a limited state of emergency to ensure continued federal funding eligibility and regulatory flexibility primarily for healthcare and government operations (the governor’s office notes that the order does not extend previous restrictions on nursing home visitation); Executive Order 78 to extend authority for remote governmental and shareholder meetings; and Executive Order 79 to extend authority for remote notarization and witnessing.
• On April 27, issued Executive Order 80 to remove the authority of most Tennessee counties to issue local mask mandates.
Postponement of Executions - A number of executions have been postponed due to the pandemic. These include:
• On April 17, 2020, the court delayed the execution of Oscar Franklin Smith from June 4, 2020, to Feb. 2021. On Jan. 5, 2021, the court delayed the execution indefinitely.
• On June 12, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered a stay of execution for Byron Black until April 8, 2021. On Dec. 3, 2020, the court indefinitely postponed the execution.
• On July 17, 2020, Gov. Bill Lee delayed the execution of Harold Wayne Nichols from Aug. 4, 2020, to 2021.
• On Nov. 6, 2020, Gov. Bill Lee delayed the execution of Pervis Payne from Dec. 3, 2020, to April 9, 2021.
Tennessee Attorney General - The office is closed to outside visitors but has made alternative arrangements for service of process. For questions call 615-741-3491 or email email@example.com. The attorney general’s office also has filed an emergency petition with the Public Utility Commission to urge utility companies to suspend disconnections for those who cannot currently make payments and is pursuing allegations of price gouging in the state. On April 27, 2020, the AG issued an opinion that executive orders taken by the governor during a state of emergency supersede any conflicting action taken by local governments. The Attorney General took a number of other actions related to the pandemic in 2020, including:
• Filing an emergency petition on March 24 asking the Tennessee Public Utility Commission to stop services disconnections for nonpayment during the state of emergency.
• Issuing a stop and desist order and then reaching a settlement on April 21 with brothers in Hixon who had stockpiled hand sanitizer and antibiotic wipes to sell online.
• Joining a coalition of attorneys general on April 22 to urge the FCC and the telecommunications industry to protect consumers struggling financially during the pandemic.
• Joining a coalition of attorneys general on April 23 to recommend actions to help homeowners who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Joining a coalition of attorneys general on May 21 to ask Congress to pass the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act.
• Joining a coalition of attorneys general on May 21 in urging Congress to ensure all Americans have the home internet access they need for telemedicine, teleschooling and telework.
• Ruled that mask mandates are constitutionally defensible.
Tennessee Board of Law Examiners - The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order on April 2, 2020, to address concerns with the July 2020 bar exam amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The order extends the amount of time certain applicants will be able to practice pending bar exam results and the expiration of MPRE scores and creates a process to transfer a July 2020 exam application to either a fall exam, if one is scheduled, or the February 2021 exam. On April 17, 2020, the court announced an additional exam will be held Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 2020, in Knoxville. On May 11, the court issued an order regarding administration of the July 2020 bar exam, which will go forward with reduced seating. The order also established a protocol for giving priority seating to certain applicants for the July exam. On July 13, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court canceled the in-person bar exam scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2020. The court instead ordered the Board of Law Examiners to administer an online, remotely-proctored assessment on Oct. 5-6, 2020. Read more about the decision. At the ABA's August 2020 meeting, its House of Delegates recommended the cancellation of all in-person bar exams. On Oct. 23, 2020, the court directed that the February 2021 bar exam be held virtually. On Feb. 16, 2021, the court directed that the June 2021 bar exam be conducted virtually.
Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility - The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order on March 27, 2020 suspending in-person formal proceedings through April 30; extending through April 30 any deadlines regarding disciplinary proceedings; and extending through April 30 the deadlines set forth in Rule 9, Sections 10.4 (bar cards) and 10.5 and 10.6 (non-payment delinquency notices, fees and suspension), as well as Rule 43, Section 15 (IOLTA delinquency notices, fees and suspension). Beginning March 23, 2020, the Board will be operating remotely. On April 4, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order 24 extended the due date of the professional privilege tax from June 1 to July 1, 2020. For informal ethics inquiries, please submit online using the informal inquiry form.
Tennessee CLE Commission - The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order on March 13, 2020 temporarily suspending Rule 21, sections 3.01(c) and 4.02(c), through March 31 to allow lawyers to earn all or any portion of required CLE hours for 2019 through approved distance learning. The court issued an order on March 27, 2020, allowing lawyers to earn all or any portion of the required CLE hours for 2020 through approved distance learning. The court issued an order on Dec. 3, 2020 allowing lawyers to earn all or any portion of the required CLE hours for 2021 through approved distance learning.
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance - On March 24, 2020, the department requested insurance companies be flexible and avoid canceling policies for non-payment.
Tennessee Department of Corrections - The department announced on March 12, 2020, that Tennessee prisons have suspended all visitations except legal visits until further notice. Parole hearings will continue as scheduled. The department has launched a hotline for people with friends and family behind bars to call and ask COVID-19 related questions, WPLN News reports. On Dec. 1, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Correction suspended visits at four state prisons until further notice due to the COVID-19 virus.
Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development - The agency's website offers resources for small businesses, employers and employees.
Tennessee Department of Human Services - The department has launched a hotline to help make it easier for families with children to check on their application for emergency cash assistance. Applicants can call 833-496-0661 to learn the status of their application, including approval or denial and how much money the family can expect to receive. Applications for emergency cash assistance will be accepted through May 29, 2020, and can be submitted online.
Tennessee Department of Revenue - The department has extended the deadline for filing corporate franchise and excise taxes and the Hall income tax to July 15, 2020. Business taxes are now due by June 15, 2020. The department also has developed an information page for updates about COVID-19 actions.
Tennessee Secretary of State Administrative Procedures Division - The division issued an order March 25, 2020, setting procedures for minimizing in-person contact until further notice. Cases typically heard in-person may be heard by audio or visual teleconference. The order also extends deadlines and allows filings to be submitted via fax to 615-751-4472 or email to APD.Filings@tn.gov. For non-legal questions call 615-741-7008. For legal questions, lawyers should contact the administrative judge presiding over the case.
Tennessee State Capitol - Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton issued a statement on March 12, 2020, urging groups planning non-essential events, such as visits and activities, at the State Capitol and legislative building to reschedule or postpone. The Daily Memphian has more. As of March 16, 2020, the Capitol and Cordell Hull Building are closed to everyone except legislators, legislative staff and the news media, the Tennessean reports. The ban includes lobbyists. As of May 1, 2020, state legislative employees are back in their offices under new protocols. The Cordell Hull office building remains closed to the public. Visitors, including lobbyists and constituents, will need to make an appointment with legislators to gain entry, the Tennessean reports.
University of Tennessee - The university has created a coronavirus resource page with information for students, instructors and staff.
Blount County - As of April 1, 2020, county government offices will be accessible only by appointment for two weeks, the Daily Times reports. On Dec. 18, 2020, the Blount County’s Justice Center closed to the public until Jan. 4, 2021. The Blount County Sheriff’s Office says the move will not affect patrol or corrections operations. Video visitation from the 24-hour jail lobby will continue to be limited to three stations with only 10 people allowed in the area. Area residents are encouraged to use the video visitation tool from home.
Chattanooga / Hamilton County - On March 19, 2020, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke mandated that all restaurants and bars end dine-in services and gyms close through April 6. On March 23, Berke ordered "non-essential" businesses to close until further notice. The order also requests residents to avoid any gatherings. Mayor Berke issued Executive Order 2020-06 mandating that residents within the city limits shelter in place and restrict non-essential travel. The order also suspends access to city-owned public spaces, requires the closure of all non-essential businesses and requires the closure of child care programs that are not serving essential personnel. Chattanooga.com has the story. Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger has extended the county's mask mandate through March 31, 2021. Get the latest information from the mayor's office.
Arrests - New arrest policies in effect except for domestic violence perpetrators, News Channel 9 reports.
Health Department Hotline - The Hamilton County Health Department has established an online resource for information and a virus hotline at 423-209-8383.
Clarksville - The city’s “shelter-at-home” order has been extended to April 22, 2020, according to the Leaf Chronicle.
Dickson County - The county sheriff says anyone arrested in his jurisdiction will be quarantined for 14 days before joining the general inmate population, the Dickson Post reports.
Kingsport - The city will no longer accept in person water/utility bill payments at the Justice Center. Starting April 13, 2020, customers should visit the old KATS transit center building at 109 Clay St. Individuals wishing to open a new utility account, establish service or obtain a business license will do so by appointment only. Call 423-343-9860 with questions.
Knoxville - On March 16, 2020, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon declared a state of emergency. On March 23, 2020, the Knox County Health Department issued a "Safer at Home" order, directing all residents to stay inside their homes and immediately limit all movement outside except what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. The order also directs all "non-essential" businesses to close for 14 days beginning on March 24, 2020. On April 13, 2020, the mayor extended the city’s“safer at home” order to April 20, WBIR reports. Get the latest information from the mayor's office.
Arrests - On March 30, 2020, judges in Knox County issued a directive to book and then release arrestees in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Knoxnews has more on the story.
Health Department Hotline - The Knox County Health Department has established a COVID-19 hotline at 865-215-5555 or toll free at 888-288-6022.
Memphis - On March 17, 2020, Mayor Jim Strickland issued a declaration of emergency and closed libraries and community centers. On March 19, 2020, the mayor declared a state of civil emergency, requiring all restaurants to perform only take-out or delivery services and bars and gyms to close. In addition, the order requests faith leaders to postpone in-person worship services until further notice. On March 21, 2020, the mayor issued an order closing all "non-essential" businesses including entertainment venues, bars and private clubs. On March 23, 2020, the mayor issued a "Safer at Home" order directing all residents of Memphis to stay inside their homes, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs through April 7,2020. On April 1, 2020, the Shelby County Health Department added teeth to the stay-at-home order. Those who continue to ignore it and social-distancing directives could face misdemeanor charges. Offenders will first receive verbal warnings, followed by written notice. Those who continue to defy will face charges and risk having their business shut down, the Daily Memphian reports. On April 6, 2020, Mayor Strickland extended the city's "Safer at Home" order until April 21, 2020. On April 21, 2020, the mayor extended the order until May 5, 2020, the Daily Memphian reports. The county health department has extended its advice for social distancing and no gatherings of 10 or more to the end of May 2020, the Daily Memphian reports. Get the latest information from the mayor's office.
Face Masks - The mayor previously encouraged Memphians to wear face coverings but on June 16, 2020, the city council approved an ordinance that requires the wearing of face masks in places of business, inside public buildings and when seeking medical care. It also applies when people are waiting for or using public transportation but not while they are seated at a bar or restaurant, the Commercial Appeal reports.
Health Department Website - The Shelby County Health Department has created a website for resources.
Benefit Fund - The city has created a Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund at the Community Foundation to help those impacted by the virus.
Nashville - On March 15, 2020, Nashville Mayor John Cooper imposed restrictions for bars and restaurants, asking all bars in Davidson County to close and restaurants to limit their maximum seating to less than 50%, capped at 100 individuals and no bar standing. On March 22, 2020, the Metro Public Health Department issued a "Safer at Home" order, directing all Davidson County residents to stay home unless needed and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people for non-essential purposes. The order, which took effect March 23, 2020, also directs all "non-essential" businesses to close for 14 days. Metro police are warning non-essential businesses that they could receive citations, fines or even have licenses revoked if they stay open. Police and health department inspectors are out visiting businesses deemed “non-essentials” to make sure they were closed, Fox 17 reports. On March 31, 2020, the mayor extended the Safer at Home Order to April 24, 2020, Fox 17 reports. On April 20, 2020, the mayor extended the Safer at Home order to May 1, 2020, Nashville Post reports. On April 23, 2020, the mayor announced a four-step process for re-opening the city and issued resources for various businesses and populations. As of May 20, 2020, metro government is requiring employees and visitors to wear a mask before entering government buildings. As of July 24, 2020, all bars must close at 10 p.m. Get the latest information from the mayor's office.
Sheriff’s Office - Sheriff Daron Hall has halted all evictions and service of other civil papers. Exceptions include: orders of protection, child custody orders, protection of the elderly and vulnerable persons and emergency mental health orders.
Health Hotline - The city launched a public hotline at 615-862-7777. It will be staffed by nurses from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Read more about that effort.
Assistance for Businesses - A new task force has been created to help small businesses as they deal with the impact of recent tornadoes and the COVID-19 crisis, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The task force is expected to focus on available federal, state and privately-sourced assistance and determining how best to obtain and distribute it.
Benefit Funds - The city has created a fund through United Way of Greater Nashville to help those facing financial challenges. The non-profit Generous also has created a emergency response fund to benefit six non-profits: FiftyForward, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, MusiCares Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank and Shade Tree Clinic.
Sumner County - County law enforcement have begun releasing some inmates convicted of minor crimes and were scheduled to be released in the coming days or weeks.
Shelby County Jail - Attorneys seeking to enter the to talk to clients will have to answer a series of questions. No one will be allowed to the enter the jail if they have (1) had close contact with anyone known to have traveled from Wuhan, Japan, India, Iran or Italy within the past 14 days; or (2) fever, cough, shortness of breath or systems of lower or upper respiratory illness.
Shelby County Register of Deeds Office - The office is temporarily closed to the public. Customers can continue to mail filings or electronically file records online. For customers who generally come to the office, a secure document drop-off slot is available beginning March 24,2020, from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
Washington County - Beginning June 1, 2020, the Washington County’s Historic Courthouse and the county's Johnson City office will reopen to in-person service with precautions in place, the Johnson City News & Neighbor reports.
Williamson County - Government offices will generally be closed to the public through April 14, 2020, though appointments will be taken for visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The closure does not apply to any buildings where judicial functions are conducted, including the courthouse, judicial center, juvenile court or jail. The Franklin City Hall also has closed, the Tennessean reports.
Executive Office for Immigration Review - All non-detained hearings, including merits hearings, are postponed through April 10. Detained cases will be heard as scheduled. Immigration courts in a number of locations, including Memphis, Louisville and Atlanta, are closed through April 10. Follow news from the office on Twitter or Facebook or website for updates.
Federal Emergency Management Agency - FEMA reports that President Donald Trump approved the state's request for an emergency disaster designation on April 2, 2020. Read FEMA's announcement or more in the Tennessean.
Internal Revenue Service - On March 18, 2020, the IRS deferred individual taxes due for 2019 from April 15 to July 15,2020. On March 20, 2020, the IRS changed the filing deadline for individual taxes from April 15 to July 15, 2020. Those who are owed a refund can file earlier if they wish. CNBC has the story. On April 9, 2020, the IRS extended the deadline for more than 300 types of tax filings, payments and other requirements to July 15, 2020. The list includes certain businesses, tax-exempt organizations, fiscal-year businesses, estates and trusts and gift taxes, Politico reports. In August 2020, the IRS published frequently asked questions regarding leave-sharing plans related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic Response Accountability Committee - The federal committee coordinating oversight of the coronavirus relief effort has unveiled a website that catalogues its ongoing review of the federal response and provides an option to submit allegations of waste, fraud, abuse or retaliation against whistleblowers; feedback about the government's response; and a clearinghouse for all U.S. attorney statements and filings related to the pandemic.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - On Sept. 1, 2020, the CDC issued an order banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no longer afford to rent due to income lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - USCIS, including its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers, has suspended all routine face-to-face services with applicants at all its offices through April 7, 2020, unless it is extended. The agency will continue to provide emergency services. All in-person public engagement and outreach events also are canceled through April 1, 2020. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about events.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security - On March 26, 2020, the department extended the deadline for acquiring a Real ID by one year to Oct. 1, 2021.
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development - HUD is suspending evictions and foreclosures for people living on its properties through May 1, 2020. Read more in the Business Insider.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - The office considers the effects of the new coronavirus to be an "extraordinary situation" and is waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the virus. It is not granting waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute. Read the announcement here.