Safer at Home Order

To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Metro Public Health Department has issued a Safer at Home Order directing all residents of Nashville and Davidson County to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.”

We understand that not everyone is Safer at Home.

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  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other health care necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (check first with your health care provider)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru
  • Care for a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be outdoors for exercise — maintaining at least 6 feet between you and others
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian, if necessary
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies
  • Receive deliveries from businesses permitted to deliver


  • Go to work, unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
  • Visit friends and family without an urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as stated on the facility websites


Is this Order mandatory?

Yes. This is a legally enforceable Order.

Why is this happening now?

This Metro Public Health Department Emergency Order is being issued now because it is urgent that we slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Nashville and Davidson County.

The virus spreads easily. This Order is intended to prevent the disease from overwhelming our health care system. The goal here is to “flatten the curve,” to slow down the spread of the virus and ensure we have adequate health care resources for both those who get sick with COVID-19 and those who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other medical conditions.

What is the difference between “Safer at Home” and “social distancing”?

Safer at Home is a stricter form of social distancing. There are some differences. Safer at Home means:

  • Stay home (to protect both against being exposed and exposing others)
  • Only go out for essential services
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others
  • Don’t gather in groups

If you are out for essential purposes, the other social distancing measures continue to apply: wash your hands frequently with soap; scrub with hand sanitizer if water and soap are unavailable; practice healthy hand and respiratory hygiene.

When does the Order go into effect? Can it be changed?

The Order goes into effect Monday, March 23, 2020.

The Metro Public Health Department will closely monitor the situation every day to determine the Executive Order’s duration and any changes that may be necessary. It was important to get this Order in place quickly given the spread of the virus in Tennessee. However, it can and will likely be updated as conditions warrant. Follow updates at We will also share new updates with the media.

What are essential services and which businesses will stay open?

The following essential services will remain open:

  • Federal and state offices and services, including post offices and airports
  • Essential metro government functions, including law enforcement, transportation, and businesses that provide government programs and services
  • Food and beverage operations: grocery and beverage stores, farmers markets, food banks, catering companies, convenience stores selling food, agriculture, food processing, feed mills, and other businesses that directly support the food supply
  • Health care services, mental and behavioral health care services, and biomedical research and businesses that directly support the health care industry, including health information technology, staffing and supplies
  • Sanitation and waste removal businesses and services
  • Energy, water, and sewage businesses and services
  • Pharmacies, medical supply and other businesses that directly support the drug and medical supply chain
  • Vehicle fuel and service stations and businesses
  • Banks, savings and loans, insurance companies, accounting and other businesses that directly support insurance and financial services
  • Legal and judicial services
  • Laundromats, laundry and dry cleaning services
  • Home and business repair, hardware supply
  • Warehousing and storage
  • Construction and facilities design businesses
  • Product logistics, transport and distribution businesses
  • Parcel transportation and delivery businesses
  • Veterinary and pet supply business and services, including agricultural services and the care and feeding of all livestock and farm animals
  • Home and business cleaning and maintenance services
  • Businesses relying on deliveries may continue, including florists
  • Internet and telecommunications systems, including the provision of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services
  • Print, online and broadcast media
  • Other businesses and services that the Health Department, in coordination with Metro Legal and the Office of the Mayor, determines are essential for the continued safety and security of Davidson County

In addition:

  • Daycare and childcare businesses will remain open, but will prioritize children of parents working in essential services
  • Hotels and commercial lodges will remain open, but must cease entertainment or dining services in restaurants or group settings. Pick-up and room-service provision may continue.
  • Housing and rental services may continue, but agents should practice social distancing, hold no open houses or gather in groups larger than 10

These essential services may continue as long as appropriate distancing is physically possible and encouraged. These businesses will adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene in the workplace, including encouraging work-from-home and allowing employees, when possible, to work on-site in shifts to optimize social distancing in the workplace.

All essential services, especially grocery stores and pharmacies, will make best efforts to establish hours available only to senior citizens or otherwise vulnerable populations.

What about government employees?

This Order does not apply to employees of government agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment. Employees of Metro Nashville shall follow any current or future directives issued by the mayor.

What about infrastructure and construction?

Individuals may leave their residences to provide any services or goods, or perform any work necessary to the operations, maintenance and manufacturing of essential infrastructure, including without limitation:

  • Construction of commercial and institutional buildings, and residential buildings and housing
  • Airport operations, food supply, concessions and construction
  • Water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil extraction and refining
  • Roads, highways, public transportation and rail
  • Solid waste collection and removal
  • Flood control and watershed protection
  • Internet and telecommunications systems, including the provision of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing, business infrastructure, communications and web-based services
  • Manufacturing and distribution deemed essential to the supply chains of the above industries

What if I need to visit a health care provider?

For the purposes of this Executive Order, individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any health care provider, including hospitals, clinics, emergency dentist visits, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical and scientific research facilities, laboratories, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, veterinary care providers, mental health providers, physical therapists and chiropractors or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services, manufacturers and suppliers.

Exercise gyms or similar facilities are not included as health care providers.

If it is a non-essential medical appointment, consider rescheduling for a later date.

Contact your health care provider in advance to determine which visits or procedures you should attend.

If you feel sick, first call your health care provider, a nurse hotline or an urgent care center to determine next steps.

If you think you may have contracted the COVID-19 virus, please call the Metro Public Health Department COVID-19 Hotline: 615-862-7777.

Do not go to the emergency room unless you have an actual emergency.

Can I still seek non-essential medical care or appointments?

Each of the health systems in Nashville is providing guidance about medical care appointments. Please contact your health care provider to determine which visits or procedures you should attend.

If it is a non-essential medical appointment, consider rescheduling for a later date.

If I or a family member is sick and needs to visit a medical provider, how do we protect others?

First, call your health care provider or an urgent care center to determine if and where you or your family member should go.

If you suspect that you or a family member has COVID-19, please call the MPHD COVID-19 Information Hotline, open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily: 615-862-7777, or the Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Lines, open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily: (833) 556-2476 or (877)-857-2945.

Click here for more information on COVID-19.

If you or your family member must go out for medical care, take precautions to protect the health of others:

  • If possible, do not take public transportation. If you must, stand at least 6 away from others and practice social distancing vigilantly.
  • If you or your family member is coughing or sneezing, wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands with soap before you leave your house and upon arrival at the health care facility.

Call 911 or go to the emergency room only if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Who counts as a family member?

A family member includes anyone you live with, anyone who is a legal relative of yours, or anyone you treat as a family member.

What if I am diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or have been exposed to someone who was?

If you have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, you will need to be isolated to protect others who are around you. If you were exposed to someone who was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, you should quarantine for 14 days to avoid exposing others, because you may have contracted the virus yourself. Contact your health care provider if you have additional questions, call the MPHD COVID-19 Hotline at 615-862-7777, or click here to learn more about the COVID-19 virus.

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents, friends or others who need help to care for themselves?

You are permitted to provide care or help them get supplies. However, if you are sick or suspect you are getting sick, try to arrange for someone else to help. The elderly and immuno-compromised are especially vulnerable to infection; it is important to protect them from possible exposure. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance, when possible; practice good hand and respiratory hygiene; wash your hands frequently with soap, and use hand sanitizer, as needed.

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

Generally, these facilities are not allowing visitors. There are limited exceptions. Please call or visit the facility’s website to learn their guidelines.

Can I use ride share, on-demand car service or a taxi?

The Safer at Home Order expressly authorizes airlines, taxis and other private transportation providers, like Uber and Lyft, to provide transport for essential activities. When such transportation is necessary, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, to the best of your ability. Wash your hands with soap before and after rides; use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; try not to touch commonly used surfaces; cover your mouth and nose if you must cough or sneeze.

Is Metro public transit still in operation?

All Metro public transit systems have implemented a modified service plan but remains fully operational for essential travel.

WeGo Public Transit has increased the frequency of its fleet and facility disinfecting program, with greater focus on surfaces touched most frequently by customers and employees.

Signs have been posted around the Central Bus Station and other WeGo facilities to promote hand-washing and other hygienic habits when riding public transit.

For more information, please visit WeGo Transit.

Can I still order the things I need online and have them delivered to my residence?

Yes. Businesses delivering goods or services directly to residences may continue to operate. Remember to keep your social distance by staying at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.

Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper and medicines?

No. You will continue to be able to purchase essential items when you need them; grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores will remain open and are frequently restocking.

Please continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally do. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.

I am currently on vacation outside of Nashville. Does the Order allow me to return home?

Yes. Practice vigilant social distancing while you travel home. Upon arrival, you will be subject to the limitations in this Order. If you prefer to stay indoors at your current location, you are encouraged to follow these safety measures there as well, to protect yourself and others.

What happens if I leave Nashville to go on a planned vacation?

The Order requires that you stay in your place of residence. Non-essential travel is strongly discouraged because traveling risks spreading the virus to other areas and exposing new populations. If you must travel, first check with the carrier to confirm schedules and protocols they may have. Practice social distancing measures vigilantly.

I’m visiting and staying in a hotel, with family/friends, or in a short-term rental. Can I go home?

If you have a car and can travel home, you may do so. If you have a flight or other travel plans, first check with the carrier to see if they are operating and what protocols they recommend. You are strongly encouraged to shelter in place for 14 days when you arrive at your destination to avoid the risk of spreading infection to your home community.

Can I leave home to exercise? To walk my dog?

Yes, if you will be outdoors and not in close contact with people.
Be sure that you distance yourself at least 6 feet from other pets and owners.

Remember, fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities are closed.

What shopping trips and errands are permitted?

You can leave home to fulfill essential needs: food, medical care, banking, essential home or business maintenance and supplies. Minimize the frequency of outings as much as possible, and practice social distancing when you go. Always maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.

I’m not sick, and I want to go to work. Can I?

Unless your work includes an essential function, you cannot go to work. You may have the virus and not know it, or you might get it and risk infecting others.

What do I do about my kids? I have to work.

The Order allows you to take your children to authorized childcare, if necessary. Otherwise, you should address childcare needs as you are able, given the current constraints.

Am I allowed to have my children in childcare? Will my daycare be closed?

Daycare and childcare businesses will remain open but will prioritize children of parents working in essential services.

Can I take my kids to the playground or arrange play dates for them?

Do your best to entertain your children with games, reading, puzzles, and TV/videos at home. Engage them in educational online tools. Children can play outside, supervised, but you should not take them to the playground or on play dates. Children are not able to maintain social distance, and even adults are prohibited from socializing with friends in this manner.

Can I go to the grocery store, market, food bank or convenience store to buy food and beverages?

Yes. Grocery stores, supermarkets, food banks, produce stands, convenience stores, and other food retail establishments are encouraged to remain open to provide supplies to the public. Please help retailers by staying at least 6 feet away from other patrons while shopping and standing in line. Wash your hands with soap before you leave home and immediately upon return.

Can I get take-out from restaurants, cafes, food trucks or other food/drink purveyors?

Yes, but only to pick up curbside or via drive-thru. You cannot eat at the establishment or congregate with others. Many establishments also offer home delivery. In all cases, maintain at least 6 feet away from others, including while standing in line, and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. Before eating, wash your hands with soap.

If my child’s school is providing food or meals, can I go to the school to pick it up?


How can I access free or reduced-price meals for myself or my family?

Schools, soup kitchens, food banks, and other entities that provide free or reduced-price food or meals to students or other members of the public are encouraged to continue providing these services. However, food may not be eaten on the premises. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others, and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. Wash your hands with soap or scrub with hand sanitizer before eating.

What if I’m in a line and there isn’t six feet between me and others?

Try to spread out to maintain at least 6 feet between you and others. When this isn’t possible, do your best to keep the duration short, and be vigilant about covering your mouth and nose to sneeze or cough. Do not touch your face. As soon as possible, wash your hands with soap.

I work for an essential infrastructure organization. Can I leave home to go to work?

Yes. “Essential infrastructure” includes, but is not limited to, water, sewer, gas, electrical, roads and highways, construction, public transportation, internet, and telecommunications systems, including the provision of essential infrastructure for computing, business infrastructure, communications and web-based services.

Can I go to a bar, nightclub, theater or concert venue?

No. Entertainment venues like these are not permitted to be open during this Order.

Can I go to a vet or pet hospital if my pet is sick?

Yes. Please call first to determine if there are any restrictions in place.

What if the plumbing gets stopped up or there is another problem with necessary equipment at my home?

Call your plumber or building manager. This Order allows service providers like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, exterminators and building managers to provide their services to the public. For a DIY solution, you can visit hardware stores, also permitted to stay open.