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Gov. Lee extends emergency orders guiding public response to COVID-19

Among the government directives that will remain in place is one allowing local leaders to impose face-mask mandates.

Gov. Bill Lee is extending until Sept. 30 ongoing orders meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee.

Among the government directives that will remain in place under Lee's signing Friday of Executive Orders 59, 60 and 61 is one that allows local leaders to impose face mask orders.

Also, governments can continue to hold electronic meetings amid the emergency under Lee's action through Sept. 30 and then transition to in-person meetings starting Oct. 1.

Executive Order No. 59 extends previous provisions that:

*Urge persons to wear a cloth face covering in places where in close proximity to others, while facilitating local decision-making concerning face covering requirements;

*Urge social distancing and limit social and recreational gatherings of 50 or more persons, unless adequate social distancing can be maintained;

*Limit nursing home and long-term-care facility visitation, while providing a framework for safe, limited visitation, and continue the closure of senior centers;

*Provide that employers and businesses are expected to comply with the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge) for operating safely (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments have authority to issue different directives on businesses/venues);

*Provide that bars may only serve customers seated at appropriately spaced tables and must follow the Economic Recovery Group Guidelines (e.g., Tennessee Pledge) for restaurants (the 6 counties with locally run county health departments have authority to issue different directives on businesses/venues);

*Continue access take-out alcohol sales to encourage carryout and delivery orders;

*Allow broad access to telehealth services;

Executive Order No. 60, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 51, 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. The order ensures 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.

Executive Order No. 61, as previously extended by Executive Order No. 52, is extended through September 30, and allows for remote notarization and remote witnessing of documents, subject to compliance with certain procedures. The order ensures 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 while also making preparations to implement best practices for a safe return to in-person transactions beginning October 1.