Tennessee Signs Law Limiting Vaccine, Mask Mandates in Schools, Private Firms

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, on Friday signed into law SB 9014, a bill forwarded by the governor’s Cabinet limiting vaccine and mask mandate requirements by local government and businesses regarding COVID-19.

The law, signed by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the General Assembly on Nov. 1, is likely to face immediate legal challenges, according to The Tennessean.

The new law restricts privately owned businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof and allows only schools and other public entities to enact mask mandates under an extreme surge of 1,000 infections or more for every 100,000 residents in a 14-day period.

“We had a federal government who required businesses against their will, who required employees against their will, to make a personal health decision which is an egregious overreach by the federal government,” Lee said, according to WTVF Nashville.

Members of Nashville’s Metro Council called on Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, last week to consider all avenues, including legal methods, to “clarify the city’s authority,” The Tennessean previously reported.

According to the outlet, the law would take away Nashville’s authority to maintain its own mask mandate.

The law follows Lee’s legal battles over EO 84, which allowed parents to opt-out of school mask mandates. The bill also follows several states’ legal challenges to President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring businesses of 100 employees or more to mandate vaccination or frequent testing.

A federal appeals court issued a temporary stay on the mandate last weekend after a joint challenge from Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

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