The City of Murfreesboro declared a state of emergency that took effect at 6 p.m. Saturday as a preventative measure on the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Shane McFarland made the statement in a press release.

This declaration, among other things:

• Orders that establishments whose primary business is alcohol service or food service (other than pick-up, take-out, delivery, or drive-through service) within the City of Murfreesboro close for on-site consumption, effective at 12:00 a.m. Monday, March 22, 2020, and shall remain closed for on-site consumption until the Order is withdrawn;

• Orders all gyms and exercise and fitness facilities within the City of Murfreesboro close effective at 12:00 a.m. on Monday, March 22, 2020, and shall remain closed until this Order is withdrawn;

• Declares that the City, to the extent possible and provided by law, shall follow CDC guidance as it relates to COVID-19, and specifically authorizes the City Manager to take reasonably necessary steps to limit person-to-person public access to City offices and facilities and to develop and implement alternative work arrangements and schedules to protect City employees during this pandemic;

• Suspends certain procedures and formalities otherwise required under the Murfreesboro City Code or Tennessee law pertaining to how the City conducts its operations;

• Encourages all members of the public and businesses to follow and comply with guidance and directives issued by the federal CDC as well as the Tennessee and Rutherford County departments of health; and

• Encourages all members of the public to remain calm, to resist panic purchasing, consider their neighbors who have need, and to look after and help those most at risk to this pandemic to include the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.

Councilmember Ronnie Martin spoke to the Murfreesboro Post.

“We had a conversation today; I think the consensus was we want to make sure we are doing everything we can from a preventative standpoint,” Martin said.

Even though the city does not know of a large number of local cases in Rutherford County, “What we know is when we have the data, it’s too late to put in preventative measures. The consensus is better safe than sorry.”

This is not in reaction to any new developments, Martin said. The city has monitored actions taken by other elected officials.

McFarland said in his statement, “While Rutherford County only has 5 confirmed cases by the Tennessee Health Department, we need to be proactive to stop the spread and save lives, so I am taking strong action ahead of additional cases. Our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our citizens.”

City Manager Craig Tindall said, “The City will continue to deliver critical services throughout the emergency period. Some non-critical service may be limited, and facilities may be closed or have limited access. Those limitations and closures will be communicated on the City website and updated continuously. Police, Fire, Water, Utilities, Solid Waste, emergency management and communications will be unaffected. Murfreesboro Airport remains fully operational, and City Schools will continue its CHOW food program. We are committed to the safety of our residents and visitors as well as the employees of the City. The City encourages everyone to continue following CDC and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines and recommendations.”

McFarland added “We want to make sure our residents and employees are safe as we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and provide essential services, follow CDC guidelines and adhere to recommendations of Governor Lee and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). As I have previously told Council, we have fought significant challenges in this City before.  I’m confident we will get through this with the help of skilled healthcare providers, courageous first responders, and diligent City staff.”

Persons with medical concerns should continue to call the Rutherford County Health Department at 615-898-7880 or their primary healthcare provider to be connected with appropriate resources.

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