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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Gov. Lee lifts restrictions on school sporting events starting Monday as COVID-19 cases decline

Governor Bill Lee said that since Tennessee saw a 60% decline in COVID-19 cases, he decided to suspend Executive Order 74 starting Monday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee announced that Executive Order 74 will be suspended starting Monday, lifting COVID-19 restrictions on indoor school sporting events.

In a statement released on Thursday, he said that Tennessee saw a nearly 60% decline in new COVID-19 cases and a 40% decline in hospitalizations. He said that wearing masks, washing hands and limiting the size of gatherings helped contribute to this improvement.

"I encourage Tennesseeans to keep up their responsible personal choices as we work towards a COVID-free Tennessee," he said. "Your efforts have made a significant effort in fighting COVID-19."

Executive Order 74 said that schools could host sporting events, but required them to follow guidelines from the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association. It also said that non-school-sponsored athletics events, such as practices, must also follow guidelines from either the Tennessee Pledge or from TSSAA. 

It also said only specific people can attend practices, games or competitions, according to TSSAA's guidelines. Only student-athletes who were members of the competing or practicing teams, coaching and team personnel, athletic officials, administrators, parents and guardians, media members and first responders were allowed to attend.

With the order lifted, cheerleaders should be able to participate in games, as long as their schools allow it. A petition to allow cheerleaders, dancers and bands to compete collected more than 23,000 signatures by Thursday.

Guidance and rules of local education agencies and the TSSAA will remain in place, even after the order is lifted, according to a statement from Gov. Lee.