Updated: April 28 - the Attorney General issued an opinion on the Governor's Emergency Management Executive Orders. It also outlines the inability of political subdivisions to take alternative actions.
Original post: 3/21/2020
The laws about who has authority to quarantine and close businesses because of a public health crisis can be confusing since laws are not the same from state to state. For Tennessee, the State Health Department is authorized to take these actions and authorizes its county health officer to take these actions for each county. The local governments cannot make these decisions.
The City of Maryville can encourage our citizens to stay home, away from crowds, and follow the guidelines of the CDC. We are all responsible to take these actions as citizens, neighbors and friends.
We will be ready to support and enforce any decisions made by our local health authorities and continue to provide the essential services our citizens need throughout this situation.
The following are specific Tennessee Code Annotated locations and their summaries:
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-201; Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-204
The commissioner of health, appointed by the governor, has the power to declare quarantine whenever he or she determines the welfare of the public requires it. The commissioner has the authority to prescribe rules and regulations deemed proper for the prevention of epidemic diseases in the state. In the event of an emergency or disaster that involves the outbreaks of disease that present a danger of an epidemic, the commissioner shall make appropriate recommendations to the governor for actions under this title and title 58, chapter 2, to allocate all available heath care resources in the affected areas for immediate and long-term health care needs of the affected populations.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-2-609
The county health officer is empowered to order the quarantine of any place or person if the county health officer finds that such control is necessary to protect the public health from an epidemic.
State & Local Authority
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-9-201 et. seq.
The commissioner and all state, district, county or municipal health officers are authorized, directed and empowered to implement control measures that are reasonable and necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission and spread of tuberculosis in this state.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-203
Any person who willfully disregards or evades quarantine, or violates any rule or regulation made in attempting to prevent the spread of any epidemic disease, commits a Class B misdemeanor.