Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Tuesday dentists and small group recreation businesses in most counties will be allowed to reopen this week.
The governor said starting Wednesday, May 6, dentists will be allowed to resume practicing and are being asked to follow American Dental Association guidelines.
Starting Friday, May 8, Lee said small group recreation businesses, such as bowling alleys, mini-golf courses, arcades, dance classes and water sports will also be allowed to reopen under guidelines recommending capacity limits and spacing requirements. Larger venues where social distancing isn't feasible will remain closed.
The directive for dental offices will include Knox County dental offices, as the county's plan does not provide guidance for them and defers to professional, state and federal guidance.
However, the order for small recreation businesses applies to all counties except Knox, Shelby, Madison, Davidson and Sullivan -- those counties are following their own reopening plan for those businesses and most recreation facilities are told to remain closed in phase one.
During Tuesday's briefing, the governor also touched on efforts to help increase the amount of PPE in the state. Lee said the state is beginning to distribute 5 million cloth masks to people across the state. 500,000 masks have already been distributed this week and will be available free of charge at local health departments.
Lee said the state has also begun mass sterilization of N95 respirators for health care workers to allow them to be reused. A company in Jackson, Tennessee is being called on to sterilize some 80,000 respirators daily.