We’re seeing a sharp rise of confirmed novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases across our state and it’s vital that we all play a part in helping slow the spread and eventually flatten the curve. This won’t happen overnight, but with more people practicing social distancing and self-isolating, we can get to the otherside of this sooner. 

The most important thing you can do is stay home. This means no dinner parties or movie nights. It means no playdates for kids and their friends. It means no in-person interactions of any size, for any reason. If you need groceries or medical attention, or if your job absolutely requires you to be at work, please take care of that. Otherwise, stay home. You’re safer there.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-04

Yesterday, March 23, 2020, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke signed Executive Order 2020-04, which closes additional businesses that cannot implement social distancing practices and prohibits mass gatherings of ten or more people. 

However, if we find that people are not practicing safe social distancing requirements and numbers within our community rise we can expand this order at any time.

We understand that this has generated a lot of questions so we’ve attempted to address as many as possible for you. 

  • What does Executive Order 2020-04 do? 
    • This order does several things including closes some additional types of businesses, prohibits mass gatherings of ten or more people in accordance with Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 17.
  • How is this different from last week’s Executive Order? 
    • Last week’s order (2020-02) suspended dine-in service at restaurants and bars within City limits and closed gyms. However, it allows for delivery and takeout options, which are in accordance with Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 17. Executive Order 2020-04 adds additional non-essential businesses or businesses that cannot adhere to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines such as spas, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, nightclubs, concert venues, etc.
  • When does it go into effect?
    • Executive Order 2020-04 goes into effect on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
  • When does it end? 
    • As of right now, the CDC’s recommendation for social distancing goes through May 11. However, as this crisis grows we know it may be necessary to keep these mandates in place even longer, so we have no end date at this time. Mayor Berke and his staff are monitoring this crisis daily and staying in contact with local, regional, and national medical experts and other municipal leaders. We are using this information to deem when it would be safe for these orders to be lifted.
  • Governor Lee’s Executive Order on restaurants and bars ends on April 6. Does this mean the City’s mandate will be lifted as well? 
    • The Mayor’s order follows the Governor’s Order No. 17. The Mayor will look at what the community conditions are on April 6 and determine whether his Executive Order should be extended at that time based on our local conditions.
  • Does this cover more than city limits? 
    • All executive orders issued by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke only pertain to businesses and entities within city limits. 
  • What are “Essential Businesses or Activities?”
    • These are businesses or activities that are essential to the health and safety of Chattanoogans, activities to obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, and activities to engage in outdoor activity while maintaining safe social distancing practices. The businesses that we’re requiring to close now include: 
      • All indoor common areas and interior retail shops within shopping centers and malls
      • Salons, beauty shops, and barbershops
      • Spas, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors
    • However, if we find that people are not practicing safe social distancing requirements and numbers within our community rise we can expand this list at any time.
  • Are you really suspending funerals and weddings at this time? 
    • We are urging that you hold off on any large funeral or wedding until this virus is under control. We understand this may seem extreme or insensitive. However, the only way to slow and stop the spread is by practicing the CDC’s social distancing requirements. 
  • I own a small business with an online store. Can I still take online orders and allow for pickup or non-contact pickup? 
    • Yes! We encourage those who are able to still perform work online and remotely to do so. 
  • Why can’t I go over to my neighbor’s house for dinner? None of us are showing symptoms.
    • We want you to stay home. The best to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19 is by practicing social distancing. Additionally, some who have tested positive for this virus have been asymptomatic, meaning they showed no symptoms, so while as frustrating as this may seem it is in the best interest of your — and your neighbor’s — health and safety to stay home and only go out for essential trips. 
  • What if my employer won’t allow me to work from home?
    • While we strongly urge that any jobs that can be performed remotely be done so, if a business is going to continue daily operation we are requesting and urging for employers to comply with CDC guidelines on employee temperature recording. This means employers would take the temperatures of employees when they enter the building and when they leave, and send any employees home who maintain a temperature range outside CDC recommended guidelines (100.4) until such time as such employees have returned to a normal temperature range for fourteen (14) days. 
    • Additionally, to the greatest extent feasible, all Essential Activities shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Order, including by maintaining six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public, including, but not limited to, when any customers are standing in line. 
  • What measures are in place to help those who have lost their jobs or closed their businesses due to these mandates? 
    • We know that many local business owners and service industry employees are being directly impacted by this and while we hope we are on the other side of this pandemic soon, we’ve compiled resources that can help connect you to a variety of services at this time. You can find those resources at https://connect.chattanooga.gov/covid/covidresources/
  • Can you stop evictions? 
  • I know that grocery stores and pharmacies are open, what about pet stores? 
    • It’s vital that families are still able to stay healthy, this includes pets. Pet stores are exempt from this closure but please keep visits to stores and veterinarian clinics to essential services only — buying food and medicine. Non-essential visits during this time would be grooming. 
  • How are City Services affected by this? 
  • Is CARTA still operating? 
    • Yes. We know that many Chattanoogans rely on public transit and CARTA still in operations. They have enhanced their cleaning to protect their employees and patrons. Care-A-Van has reduced trips to essential services, which include medical appointments and work trips. Additionally, Care-A-Van is helping vulnerable populations by picking up groceries and prescriptions.
  • How are you enforcing this? What will happen if a business is found out of compliance? 
    • At this time CPD will be using their discretion to educate business owners and customers about the mandates required in EO 2020-02, 2020-04 and the Governor’s EO #17. Additional enforcement may be required with owners who are repeatedly not complying with social distancing rules. To report a business out of compliance residents can call 311 at (423) 643-6311.

CITY SERVICES

The City of Chattanooga is working to reduce density within its own departments and divisions. While we are implementing safe social distancing practices, we’d like to ask residents to do the same and reduce trips to City Hall and other public buildings. 

Many City services can be accessed or requested online or via the phone. We’ve created a page that breaks down those offerings by department. 

This is a frustrating and strange time for all of us. Chattanooga prides itself on its sociability and love of community. This is really tough, but knowing how quickly this vicious disease can spread — even by individuals who show no symptoms — we have to ask for your patience and sacrifice at this time. Other cities who have failed to do this have seen their emergency rooms and intensive care units completely overwhelmed for weeks on end, and we desperately want to avoid that here.

Stay informed using reliable information sources, such as the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health. The Hamilton County Health Department has a hotline to answer any questions about COVID-19. The number is (423) 209-8383

The safety and health of the Chattanooga community and its employees are the City’s top priority and we appreciate everyone’s patience during this time.

Click here to stay up to date on the status of the coronavirus in the City of Chattanooga.