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Gov. Lee says it’s time for Tennessee to return to normal; lifts local mask mandates

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says its time for Tennesseans to return to normal.

Lee on Tuesday announced that he is not renewing public health orders because COVID-19 is no longer a health emergency in our state. Lee announced that he is removing authority from local officials to issue mask requirements and has asked mayors in the state’s six big counties to remove remaining mask mandates and business restrictions before Memorial Day weekend.

“This is about trusting Tennesseans, using the tools we have at our disposal to move on from crisis management and back to life and back to business. Tennessee is moving forward thanks to her people,” Lee said.

Lee went on to say that “it’s time for celebrations, weddings and conventions and concerts and parades and proms and everything in between to happen without limits on gathering sizes or other arbitrary restrictions for those events.”

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The ruling also eliminates the mask mandate that was in place for the Coffee County School System. The Coffee County Board of Education met on Tuesday in an emergency called meeting to discuss the matter and rescinded the policy.

Lee signed executive order 80 (EO 80).

EO 80 contains the following provisions and is effective through May 31, 2021:

Removing Local Mask Authority

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While Tennessee has never had a statewide mask mandate, EO 80 removes the local authority for county mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to require face coverings throughout their jurisdictions.

Gov. Lee has requested counties with independent health departments – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – that have remaining business restrictions or mask requirements to lift all measures no later than May 30.

Extending Deregulatory Provisions

EO 80 extends helpful deregulatory provisions to enable individuals, businesses and other organizations time to adapt their operations in anticipation of ending said provisions.

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Maintaining Federal Funding

EO 80 maintains Tennessee’s access to federal funding, including SNAP benefits and cost reimbursements for the Tennessee National Guard’s testing and vaccination efforts.

In addition to EO 80, the following provisions are effective immediately:

Offering Walk-Up Vaccine Option

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While the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be available to Tennesseans aged 16 and older by appointment, local health departments will now offer a walk-up option.

Retiring Optional Business Guidance

The Tennessee Pledge business guidelines issued at the start of COVID-19 have been officially retired.

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