This week, Gov. Bill Lee announced he would be extending Tennessee’s stay at home order until April 30. He also touted Tennessee’s continued progress in combating the pandemic as supported by data that is trending downward. As part of the announcement, he unveiled plans to begin reopening Tennessee’s economy in May.
“It’s clear our economy cannot stay shut down for months on end, so we are left with a clear but complicated task. We have to re-imagine how to conduct business in a society so we can operate our economy safely and confidently while continuing to suppress the spread. We need Tennesseans to go back to work,” said Governor Lee.
“Beginning in May we will begin a phased reboot of our economy. Between now and then we will develop industry specific guidance so industries can begin to prepare and protect employees and customers. In early March, we put together an advisory council that includes leaders from the Tennessee Chamber, hospitality, transportation and grocery industries.”
Gov. Lee also unveiled plans to formalize a new economic recovery group to be led by Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell. The group will consist of legislative leaders, mayors, healthcare professionals and representatives of impacted industries. The group would work in unison with the Tennessee Unified Command to provide him with recommendations about safe and balanced reopening strategies. The unified command, which is led by Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter was formalized in late March for the purpose of centralizing Tennessee’s public health efforts related to the pandemic.
However, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) advises caution on Gov. Bill Lee’s plan.
“We should be careful this isn’t an artificial deadline, said Yarbro. “Re-open the economy when there’s sufficient capacity to do it safely—the sooner, the better.
“But let’s rush towards having a test and trace strategy, to having sufficient hospital capacity, to having guidance for sectors and communities, to having a plan for resurgences. Let’s not rush towards a date, but towards a goal.”