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Sevier County weighs option to continue mask mandate

Sevier County officials are talking over whether or not to extend a mask mandate. The current one is set to expire at midnight on Friday, October 20, 2020.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 3:50 PM EDT
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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Sevier County officials are talking over whether or not to extend a mask mandate. The current one is set to expire at midnight on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Governor Bill Lee has given mayors like Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters the ability to issue mask mandates via an executive order that lasts through the end of the year. Lee has resisted calls for a statewide mandate.

Mayor Waters’s office told WVLT News, “Yes, we are concerned about the rise in COVID cases. A decision has not been made on extending the mask mandate.” Hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19 have risen, with hospitalizations being at an all-time high, according to state officials.

Pigeon Forge Mayor, David Wear, says while the numbers are going up, he believes they would have been higher if a mask mandate would not have been put into place. He says as tourism has skyrocketed the past two months, he believes it’s because guests feel safe.

“I know the messaging is getting out to our guests. That we have a mask mandate. I believe, judging by the numbers and the studies that we’re doing, that the focus groups that we’re doing, that’s why people are coming because they feel safer here,” said Wear. “I know a lot of private businesses require a mask when you go in. The grocery stores, a lot of the restaurants, whether there’s a county mask mandate or not they’re continuing on which I think is prudent.”

Since the mask mandate went into place in July, Mayor Waters has extended that order for 30 more days each month.

To make the decision, Mayor Waters consults with city leadership in all three cities about what they would like to see going forward.

“I think Sevier County through this starting back in March until now. We’ve handled this very well. I think the hospital has done a fantastic job,” said Wear.

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