The City of Johnson City on Monday issued a Declaration of Local Emergency and Proclamation of Civil Emergency, which includes a Safer at Home order that closes non-essential businesses, requires CDC social distancing guidelines, and restricts travel. The order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 31, and will remain in effect until April 6 with the potential to extend as needed.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy also issued an Executive Order declaring a Local State of Emergency and a Safer at Home Directive on Monday, and it went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1.
The action taken by the city and the county comes upon guidance from local health officials, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with growing numbers attributed to community spread.
“This is the time to act,” said Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock. “Community spread means the virus can be anywhere. None of us is immune. We must limit all social interaction by staying home except for essential needs.”
“Last week it became apparent that we had cases that were the result of community spread and not travel related,” said Grandy. “Some test results are delayed three to five days, so the data we are receiving is not real time.”
The orders reaffirm Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order No. 17 which includes the prohibition of all public and private gatherings of more than 10 people occurring outside a single household or living unit. Also included in the order are social distancing requirements for individuals, activities and businesses during the duration of the order. CDC issued guidelines for COVID-19 prevention measures includes screening of employees for symptoms; excluding sick people from work; maintaining at least six feet social distancing from other individuals; washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer; covering coughs or sneezes into the sleeve, tissue, or elbow (not hands); avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; and not shaking hands with others.
“We know that these restrictions may place a burden on our residents and our small business owners in particular, and we don’t make this decision lightly,” Brock said. “It is clear this is what needs to happen to keep the people of this community safe. It is the most responsible thing we can do to limit the spread of this the virus.”
The Safer at Home Directives mandate all individuals currently living within the City and unincorporated areas of Washington County are required to stay at their place of residence unless engaged in essential activities, essential governmental functions or to operate essential businesses.
The list of essential businesses includes health care operations, gas stations, banks and financial institutions, grocery and beverage stores, restaurants (delivery or carry-out only), newspapers and other media outlets, daycare and childcare facilities. A full list of businesses and activities deemed essential can be found by visiting www.johnsoncitytn.org/covid-19/safer_at_home_order.php.
“The safety and health of our community and employees are the top priority and the Board of Commissioners appreciates everyone’s patience during this time,” Brock said. “Please do your part by staying apart.”
For questions regarding business, please call the Northeast Tennessee Regional Partnership at 423.202.3510.