Tennessee continues its re-opening with new guidelines for crowd sizes, bars and non-contact sports.

Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order 38 increases the maximum recommended gathering size from 10 to 50 people but continues to emphasize the importance of social distancing.


Attractions and large entertainment venues have re-opened and bars were given the green light as well. Bars may only serve customers at tables, which are to be spaced six feet apart, and will have to use the same TN Pledge guidelines as restaurants.

Live music is permissible, said the governor, with “appropriate precautions, which include maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between performers and audience in order to reduce potential exposure.”

(EO 38 says you can still get alcoholic beverages to go for now if you’re not yet ready to go back to a bar or restaurant.)

What does this mean for churches?

Though he has been clear the governors have made decisions about closures, President Donald Trump Friday called churches essential and encouraged governors across the country to allow them to re-open, even if the state was still under a stay-at-home order.

Tennessee churches were never closed by Gov. Lee, however, they were just encouraged not to meet to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Many of Tipton County’s churches have resumed worship services while others have adjusted to allow for social distancing or put off re-opening into next month.

EO 38 does not prohibit any religious gatherings, but asks worship leaders to continue to make decisions that are in the safest interest of church-goers. The governor strongly encourages virtual and online services as long as possible.

Though they are encouraged to be postponed, religious ceremonies like weddings and funerals have continued during the quarantine period with guests limited to family members and guests in a group of 10 or fewer, however they may now gather with as many as 50 people.

When can we play ball?

The new order said contact sports are prohibited, unless the bodies governing collegiate and professional sports allowed their teams to do so (and do so in compliance with health guidelines). Players may train to play these sports, they’re just prohibited from physical contact with other players.

Non-contact sports – including, but not limited to, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, disc golf, tennis and other racket sports, cycling, swimming, track and field and running events and equestrian sports – are permitted as long as participants remain compliant with guidelines to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Summer camps can be conducted if they can be done in compliance with the governor’s operational guidelines.

Elder care facilities remain closed

Nursing home and other elder care facilities are to remain closed to the public except when management allows family members for end-of-life care.

The administrators of these facilities have been strongly urged to contact mass testing for residents and employees by May 31.

The governor still asks you to wear masks and stay home, though

And even though more and more businesses are being allowed to fully re-open – the restrictions were eased on restaurants and retail this week – the order still encourages people to stay home or limit their trips and to wear face coverings when they’re in public.

“Tennesseans are urged to continue limiting activity and staying home as much as possible to preserve and build onto the health progress we’ve made,” Lee’s office said in an emailed briefing of the order. “Persons and businesses are urged to take special care to protect and provide for the well-being of vulnerable populations, including by offering delivery or special shopping hours if necessary.”

Additionally, the order reminds business owners to remain in compliance with guidelines set forth in the TN Pledge, such as employee and customer screening and managing appropriate distancing through managing guest flow and limiting capacity.

The order encourages Tennesseans to return to work, as long as it can be done safely and in accordance with social distancing and other preventative guidelines.

How are our numbers today?

Tipton County’s numbers have increased at the average 1-2 cases per day this week. The Tennessee Department of Health has the county listed at 423 total confirmed cases, however Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said there was an error and the number should actually be 412 cases.

CoreCivic reported to The Leader in addition to the 79 confirmed cases in early May, mass testing showed 229 inmates and four employees have tested positive so far. Some results are still pending, however.

We have 149 recoveries thus far, including famed former Vol Johnnie Jones, of Drummonds, and eight other members of his family. Jones told Fox13’s Mearl Purvis each family member who gathered to celebrate Easter tested positive. Five of them were asymptomatic, however Johnnie, his wife Trena and both of his parents were hospitalized in Memphis. The family encourages the use of masks.

Tipton County remains second in West Tennessee’s 21 counties for case count and deaths, which have been reported to be three and confirmed with Huffman.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.