Mayor Barnett issues mask mandate for Carter County beginning July 17

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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A mask mandate for Carter County will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17.
The announcement was made by Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett on Tuesday afternoon. Barnett said the decision came due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
“I’ve been thinking about it for several days, and I’ve been asking people to please wear their mask and social distance, and I was trying to do it without having to mandate it, but with the numbers spiking I was worried it was going too slow,” he explained. “Hopefully with the mandate numbers will start going down.”
Barnett stressed the importance of following this mandate.
“With the numbers spiking like they have, we have to work on this together,” he said. “I just ask everyone to do this together. Let’s try this for a couple of weeks and see if we can get these numbers back down.”
The mandate will be active until Aug. 3 at 11:59 p.m. unless cases continue to spike. Barnett said that if this happens the mandate may be extended.
The mandate will not be enforced by police due to manpower, however Barnett explained that he hopes this is enforced by office holders and business owners who can require masks upon entry into their establishments.
“That’s their business, they’ve got that right to ask people to wear a mask when someone enters their business,” he said. “We are hoping we can get enforcement that way because our officers have a lot of other things they need to be doing, and it is a misdemeanor, but we don’t have the manpower to police it.”
Cloth coverings fall under this mask mandate, meaning anything from scarves to a mask can be worn as a cover over the nose and mouth.
Barnett’s decision follows suit of neighboring counties of Washington, Sullivan and Greene with similar mandates.
The mandate applies to everyone except those under the age of 12 as well as those with breathing problems. Churches, though pastors have called and social distancing remains a top priority, remain places exempt.
“We’ve got to get a hold of this, and hopefully with this mask mandate we can,” said Barnett.

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