Tipton County declares a state of emergency – here’s what that means for businesses, groups and the government

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On Sunday morning, county executive Jeff Huffman declared a state of emergency for Tipton County in an effort to help contain and prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

It comes on the heels of Gov. Bill Lee signing executive order No. 17 and is effective immediately.

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“For the first time in Tipton County, we are now, likely, experiencing community transmission of the virus,” Huffman said. “This means that the virus is no longer only being transmitted from someone who has traveled outside the county. Considering that, I have taken these dramatic and unprecedented steps to keep the citizens of Tipton County safe.”

Under the new declaration and executive order, changes will be made to business operations, there are prohibitions for social gatherings and the county government has suspended some of its legally-required procedures.

What it means for the public and businesses

Lee’s order prohibits gathering in groups larger than 10 people. Blood drives are an exception to this.

His order also calls on businesses across the state to use alternative business models beginning at midnight CDT on Monday, March 23 until midnight CDT April 6. Businesses are encouraged to enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.

Both orders state restaurants should provide drive-thru, take-out and delivery services only. The county’s declaration does not mention this, but Lee’s order states establishments may sell alcohol by take-out or delivery (with the purchase of food) in closed containers to those who are age 21 and up.

Bars and gyms should close their facilities until further notice. Lee encourages gym owners to pursue digital programming if possible.

Visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes and long-term care or assisted-living facilities is now limited to visits involving essential care only.

“Additional closures may be required depending upon the results of further medical testing for this virus,” Tipton County’s declaration reads.

What it means for Tipton County government

The public health emergency declaration gives the county government, its departments and agencies the authorization to seek any and all necessary federal and state funding. It also suspends the regularly required procedures and regulations necessary to purchase equipment, materials, supplies and services needed for emergency management.

The Tipton County Emergency Management Agency is authorized to exercise all powers and authority granted to it by law.

It also states the county executive shall use all the resources available to the office to protect the health and welfare of the people of Tipton County.

“This virus is going to peak and then decline,” said Huffman. “We will get through this and my prayer is that once this emergency has passed, the people of Tipton County will swarm to local businesses to do their shopping and support the many, small, local businesses that have been devastated by this health challenge. Let’s just watch out for and take care of each other. If we do that, we will be fine.”

“I urge every Tennessean to take these actions seriously – our physical and economic health depend on this as we work to beat COVID-19,” said Lee.