Tennessee restaurants and bars that serve food are officially closed for dine-in service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are also now legally permitted to deliver and offer to-go alcohol, beer, and wine to customers.
On Sunday, March 22, following days of urging, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17, calling for businesses across the state to shift to alternative business models beginning at midnight on Monday, March 23 until midnight, April 6. While Nashville restaurants were already shuttered by citywide mandate as of March 20, the new executive order mandates restaurant and bar closures for dine-in service throughout the state.
Executive Order 17 prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people, and requires restaurants to exclusively offer drive-through, takeout, or delivery food. It also allows those businesses — temporarily — to sell alcohol via takeout or delivery, though orders must accompany a to-go order of food. Alcoholic drinks must also be served in sealed containers, aka not in a to-go cup with a straw.
“Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position,” Gov. Lee said.
The governor’s new order follows dozens of other states across the country, allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages for to-go and delivery with the purchase of food.