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What businesses can and can't reopen soon in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama amid COVID-19 crisis


With governors and mayors across the South differing in their approaches in reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Times Free Press has compiled a list of the different stay-at-home orders and what businesses will and will not be allowed to reopen soon across the region. This list will be updated as more information becomes available. 

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that gyms, hair salons and barber shops, massage therapists, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors are among businesses that may reopen Friday, April 24 — as long as owners follow strict social distancing and hygiene requirements. By Monday, April 27, movie theaters may resume selling tickets and restaurants limited to takeout orders can go back to limited dine-in service.

Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks and entertainment venues will still be closed.

— In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey said she intends for now to keep a stay-home order active through April 30 and will decide next week on what can reopen.

— In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee announced he will allow his stay-at-home coronavirus pandemic order to expire on April 30, with the "vast majority" of businesses in 89 counties allowed to reopen on May 1. The governor's plan specifically excludes six of the state's largest counties, all of which have their own health departments. That list includes Hamilton County as well as Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Knox and Sullivan counties as they plan their own "reopen strategies."


Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the county will reopen on May 1, following the decision of Gov. Bill Lee. 


Coppinger's decision, while in step with the governor, strays from that of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, who said he will not agree to an "arbitrary" reopening date. Berke said that his existing executive orders to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by restricting businesses and social gatherings of more than 10 people will only be lifted when epidemiology and testing numbers indicate it is safe to do so. 


Berke signed several executive orders in March which closed various businesses, including gyms, hair salons and dine-in services at restaurants. Earlier this month, Berke issued a shelter-in-place order telling residents to remain in their homes for all but the most critical activities, including work at an essential business, getting groceries or receiving medical attention.


The order also closes city parks and public spaces, boutiques such as clothing stores and other non-essential locations that were spared in Berke's last business order.


Essential businesses allowed to operate under the order, according to the mayor's office:

- Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure as defined in this Order; "Healthcare Operations" does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.


- Grocery and beverage stores, certified farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other similar establishments. This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;


- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;


- Liquor stores


- Pet stores


- Drug stores


- Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;


- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;


- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;


- Banks and related financial institutions


- Hardware stores, home and business repair, construction, and facilities design businesses;


- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning, janitorial, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;


- Businesses providing mailing, shipping and logistic services, including post office boxes;


- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;


- Electronic, cell phone, and internet retail businesses;


- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out.


- Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take- away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;


- Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, medical supplies, chemicals and sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, as well as products used by other Essential Businesses;


- Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate or facilitate individuals to work from home;


- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, or other goods, and those businesses providing exempt services directly to residences; Businesses that provide goods and services exclusively deliver through curb side pickup, drive-thru, shipment or delivery. For example, customers call and place order or order online, then customers pick up goods by curbside pick-up or goods are delivered to the customer. However, customers and employees must still adhere to the social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible. Businesses can start providing goods by these delivery means even if they did not before.


- Transportation services including buses, airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers (such as Uber and Lyft) providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;


- Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children, people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness;


- Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, children, people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness;


- Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;


- Hotels and motels, to the extent used for lodging (restaurants and bars on hotel premises must close any dine-in facilities; however, take-out, delivery, and room service is allowed).


- Funeral homes, crematoriums, mortuary and burial services;


- Private waste removal and recycling services;


- Blood donor operations;


- All other critical infrastructure businesses not otherwise listed but identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued on March 19, 2020.


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1402 Bailey Ave. | PO Box 3058

Chattanooga, TN 37404

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