Sevier County's billion-dollar tourist industry grinds to a halt amid COVID-19 pandemic

Source: WVLT
Source: WVLT(WVLT)
Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 9:42 PM EDT
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Sevier County's $2.5 billion dollar tourism industry has temporarily shut down as leaders urge businesses to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Monday afternoon, it was a nearly empty parkway despite it being spring break, a time when, normally, millions would be visiting.

"We think it's important not only for their health, but the latest CDC guidelines, they could potentially be exposing other people so for the next couple of weeks follow those orders," said Vice Mayor Bryan McCarter.

Tourists spend more than $6 million a day in Sevier County, leaving many wondering where their next paychecks would come from. If a business tries to stay open, county leaders said it will be hard to enforce.

"Based on our interpretation of the law, based on our legal advice, we don't feel the county has the legal authority at this time to be able to go to these businesses. What we're doing is urging these businesses to help us," added McCarter.

With many businesses with plans to stay closed for at least two more weeks, Dolly Parton had a message on billboards all over town Monday, "Brighter Days Are Ahead."

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