Jim Durrett.jpg

Jim Durrett

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts announced Monday coordinated executive orders that direct residents in Clarksville and Montgomery County to limit the size of social gatherings and restrict certain business operations.

The orders declare a civil emergency, expanding actions taken earlier by both mayors to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by limiting gatherings and in-person contact.

“Many of you have already closed or altered your businesses to support these actions, and we are very grateful,” the mayors said in a joint statement. “This is an extremely difficult time for our county and city, especially for the business community. We are taking these steps because the sooner we stop the spread of the coronavirus, the sooner we can all get back to business.”

Durrett issued his order Monday afternoon, as did Pitts after the city council approved it. The orders take effect March 25 and shall remain in effect until April 1, at which time the orders can be extended in seven-day increments.

An overview of the coordinated orders, which incorporate all of the provisions of Gov. Bill Lee’s executive orders 16 and 17, which he issued March 22. In some cases, the local executives add provisions beyond what Lee ordered:

• Social gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. In businesses, buildings and facilities that have a per-person legal maximum occupancy of 50 people or less, occupancy shall be temporarily reduced to 10, and those businesses, buildings and facilities that have a legal maximum occupancy of 51 people or more shall be temporarily reduced by one-half of their legal maximum occupancy.

• Restaurants, bars and similar food and drink establishments are to exclusively offer drive-thru, take-out or delivery options.

• Restaurants, bars, and similar food and drink establishments may sell alcohol by take-out or delivery with the purchase of food in closed containers to people who are 21 and older.

• Gyms and fitness or exercise centers or substantially similar facilities are to temporarily close and suspend in-person services.

• The mayors’ orders also close movie theaters, performing arts theaters, yoga studios, dance studios, bowling alleys and arcades.

• The mayors’ orders close to public access the common area or public space of indoor or enclosed shopping malls.

The orders, also in line with Lee’s order, pursue additional measures to keep vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions safe.

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

• 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.

• The mayors’ orders also direct city and county department heads to be proactive and are authorized to take any lawful action pertaining to their departments to effect and enforce the provisions of the orders for the purpose of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Both mayors’ orders stress the restrictions do not apply to critical infrastructure as defined by Homeland Security – industries such as health care services, pharmaceutical, food supply, utilities, information technology and public safety.

In related decisions apart from the formal orders, county and city park open spaces will remain open, while facilities such as recreation centers are closed. Citizens using such public open spaces should adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene and remain 6 feet apart.

For information on the state and national response to COVID-19 and updates on working together to reduce infections, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

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