State Watch

Tennessee governor signs law restricting COVID-19 mandates

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Friday signed into law legislation limiting the power that schools, agencies and businesses in the state have to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

The law, which was passed through the state legislature in a special session last month, will take effect immediately and is likely to face legal challenges, The Tennessean reported.

The law restricts private businesses requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19. In addition, it only allows schools and government entities if the there are at least 1,000 coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents within a 14-day period. 

The news comes after several states have mounted challenges to President Biden’s vaccine mandate, which requires businesses of 100 employees or more to mandate vaccines or frequent testing. 

A federal court of appeals issued a temporary stay on the mandate last weekend after a challenge from states including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah. 

Lee said that he was concerned that the bill did not include a provision that allowed family members indefinite visitation with their loved ones in hospitals who are battling COVID-19, according to the outlet. He stated that he intended to meet with lawmakers earlier in the week over the concern.

However, health officials and medical workers have expressed opposition to a provision like this — they say that it would counteract mitigation methods. 

Lee noted that the rule was only to apply to end-of-life patients. 

Democrats and business groups in the state have come out against the bill in full force this week. A majority of Nashville’s Metro Council members called on Mayor John Cooper (D) last week to consider all avenues, including legal methods, to “clarify the city’s authority,” given that the law would take away Nashville’s authority to maintain its existing mask mandate, The Tennessean previously reported

The law follows Lee’s legal battles over the last couple months over an executive order allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates. 

Tags Bill Lee business vaccine mandate face mask mandate Joe Biden Tennessee

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