Virus Outbreak Tennessee Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee answers questions March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., concerning the state's response to the coronavirus.

(The Center Square) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Sunday that temporarily bans restaurants and bars from offering dine-in services and prohibits gyms and fitness centers from opening to the public.

Executive Order 17 will also ban gatherings of 10 people or more. It will prohibit people from visiting nursing homes, retirement homes or long-term care or assisted living facilities unless they are providing essential assistance or visiting a resident who is receiving imminent end-of-life care and this person is not a substantial risk to other residents.

Restaurants, bars and similar establishments are still allowed to offer drive-through service, takeout and delivery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created both an economic and a health crisis and our response must continue to address both aspects,” Lee said in a statement. “Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.”

These regulations will begin Monday and will expire April 6, unless the governor extends the time period.

In the order, Lee urged businesses to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. He encouraged, but did not mandate, businesses to implement measures to protect vulnerable people and said that people should work from home when feasible.

“I urge every Tennessean to take these actions seriously – our physical and economic health depend on this as we work to beat COVID-19,” Lee said.

Tennessee has at least 371 confirmed COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. It has killed 147 people in the United States. Symptoms, which appear between two and 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Most people do not develop severe symptoms, but the virus can be fatal, especially among the elderly, those with respiratory conditions and those with a compromised immune system.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.