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TN Chamber works to resolve “What is An Essential Business?”

March 26, 2020

Crucial Tennessee Decisions: What is An Essential Business?: Guidance For Businesses and Manufacturers


With a number of Tennessee's local governments issuing stay at home orders, the Tennessee Chamber has been extremely busy this week working to provide guidance and answering question for member companies. Here are some explanations and guidance on this issue: NOTE: We encourage all of our companies to seek legal advice and we are not intending to provide legal advice but rather a policy discussion and ways we are working to solve this issue.


First, Governor Bill Lee on Sunday issued Executive Order 17 that notes essential and crucial business operations are allowed to continue. There is no definition for what essential or crucial business operations are. As result, the Tennessee Chamber submitted a letter to Governor Lee noting our support of his position and encouraging them to utilize DHS CISA guidance to determine essential manufacturing and business operations. After hearing from a number of members, this guidance covers most all member company concerns. The guidance also creates a uniform standard. The Tennessee Chamber prefers a uniform approach rather than a series of varying local orders. If you have questions about this issue call any of our staff anytime. We do encourage you to review this standard and determine if you fall within these "essential business operation" classifications since this standard is one we and others have been advocating for. Also, as you talk to local government officials please share these documents with them.


In addition, the Tennessee Chamber has a general guidance document that companies may consider for distribution to provide for any questions that may arise. CLICK HERE TO VIEW. (The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry does not make legal determinations on essential businesses. This document is intended to be used as an aide for employers to communicate their essential status AFTER internally vetting and verifying their status with counsel.)

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