Sevier County mask mandate now in effect

Sevier County Officials on Tuesday announced a mandatory mask order will take effect
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 2:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2020 at 10:41 AM EDT
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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Sevier County Officials announced a mandatory mask order will take effect Friday, July 10 at 12:01 a.m.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters made the announcement on Tuesday in front of a masked Dolly Parton statue.

Waters said the decision was not something he took lightly.

“I can see about 50% of the community agreeing with the measure and 50% disagreeing so it’s not good when the community is divided, but we believe this is the right thing to do,” said Waters. “I appreciate the support we’ve gotten in this thing that no one wants to have to do.”

Waters said officials believe the move will ultimately help Sevier County get back to normal and avoid another shutdown.

“We’re doing this for several reasons,” said Waters. “One is the health and safety of our residents, our employees and our visitors. We’re also doing it to prevent, we think this will help prevent any additional interruption or shutdown of our businesses. I don’t think we can afford another shutdown. And we’re certainly going to do everything we can to prevent that. And finally, I think we’re doing it so that we, our schools will have a better chance of opening this fall. We certainly think it’s important for our young people to continue their education. So there are several reasons to do this. And as I said, this decision has not been taken lightly.”

The order makes wearing face coverings mandatory within “Sevier County, including all city incorporated areas...except under the following conditions:

• Within one’s residence or motor vehicles (unless transporting others for hire, carpooling, etc.), hotel and motel rooms while rented to and solely occupied by guests registered to the room, overnight rentals while rented to and solely occupied by guests registered to the rental;

• By a child twelve (12) years of age or younger;

• By someone who has trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason for not wearing a face-covering;

• By someone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;

• By someone with conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face-covering;

• While actively eating or drinking;

• While outdoors. Persons outdoors are encouraged to follow Tennessee Pledge and maintain social distancing;

• While participating in indoor athletic events or indoor exercising, as permitted by the Tennessee Pledge and orders from the Governor, while maintaining proper social distancing where possible;

• While working at location of employment under conditions where appropriate social distancing or protection from others (others is defined as outside of the person’s household) is substantially maintained;

• In situations in which wearing a face-covering poses a safety or security risk;

• While in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face-covering in such locations is strongly encouraged (for more information on worship, we encourage churches to follow the Tennessee Pledge);

• The Sevier County School System is exempt from this order as it will formulate its own reopening guidelines.

• Private businesses may implement stricter guidelines (for example, requiring face coverings outdoors on private property, etc.).”

According to Sevier County officials, first-time offenders against the order will be given a warning and educated on “the purpose of the order.”

The order is set to expire on August 3.

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