On April 2, Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 23 which requires all Tennesseans to “stay at home” except for anyone engaging in essential activities or services in every Tennessee county to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order 23 amends Executive Order 22 which closed non-essential businesses. This “stay at home” was in effect until April 14, 2020, until Governor Lee issued Executive Order 27 which extended the stay-at-home provisions until April 30, 2020 to preserve and increase the containment of COVID-19.
Food and agriculture are considered essential. Order 22 lays out specifically as to what is essential in an attachment with 30 items listed. Three of these items regard food and agriculture, or the distribution of food and agriculture:
- Food and Medicine Stores:
- This includes, but is not limited to: stores that sell groceries and medicine; grocery stores; pharmacies; certified farmers’ markets; farm and produce stands; supermarkets; convenience stores; and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products); and the supply chain and administrative support operations for Food and Medicine Stores. Food and Medicine Stores also includes stores that sell groceries or medicine, including medication not requiring a medical prescription, and also that sell other non-grocery products and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activity, and Essential Services;
- Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture:
- This includes, but is not limited to: food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, and cultivation, including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other agricultural production, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; and businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, shelters, kennels, and adoption facilities;
- Manufacturing, Distribution & Supply Chain for Critical Products & Industries:
- This includes, but is not limited to: manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, health care, chemicals, sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture and agricultural products, food and beverage, household consumer products, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, defense and national defense, and communications, as well as products used by or component parts of other Essential Services;”
Executive Order 23 does not require documentation to travel during your work or to and from work to complete essential activities. However, it is not clear how local governments will enforce the provisions of the order. If you believe it is prudent for you and/or your employees to carry paperwork, it is recommended to carry copies of Executive Order 22 along with Attachment A accompanying the order and Executive Order 23. Attachment A found in Executive Order 22 explains what is considered essential by the governor, including the above information. Below are links to Executive Orders 22 and 23.
Additionally, Tennessee Farm Bureau has created a template letter you can edit and print if you believe your farming operation needs paperwork to carry at this time. This document is not legal binding, but is intended to provide information if you and your employees are stopped during your work.