Gov. Bill Lee announces end to Tennessee’s safer-at-home order

Tennessee safer-at-home order to end April 30

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has announced the state’s safer-at-home order is set to expire April 30 as officials prepare a phased reopening of Tennessee’s economy.

“The most important thing to me is that people can get back to work and businesses can begin to reopen," said Lee.

Lee wants Tennessee businesses back up and running. New COVID-19 cases, he says, have shown single-digit percentage increases for 17 days now.

Gov. Bill Lee announces end to Tennessee's safer-at-home order

“We continue to flatten the curve in Tennessee," he said.

His plan calls for businesses in 89 counties where the state runs the local health department to open May 1. The other six counties -- metro areas like Memphis -- may take more time.

Last week, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland talked about a gradual reopening. His Economic Recovery Task Force just met for the first time Monday.

Ursula Madden, Strickland’s spokeswoman, said, "We’re currently reviewing the impact of how this may affect us. Leadership from all our surrounding counties are on our Joint Task Force calls. This is all uncharted territory, and we’re working together collectively to try and find the best solutions with the information we have at hand.”

Reaction on social media to Lee’s announcement ranged from “Absolutely no sense. How can most people go back to work when schools are shuttered?” to “About Time. Open America Now.”

Medical experts agree the capacity to test for coronavirus is key when re-opening. Lee touted Tennessee’s free, drive-thru clinics.

More than 11,000 people were tested last weekend with more to follow as the Volunteer State gets back to business.

“It will be phased. It will be smart," said Lee. "It will be strategic. And it will make sure the health and safety of Tennessee is put first.”

The governor says which businesses open first and what safety measures they take haven’t been determined.

He did say social distancing will still be a part of our daily lives.

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