Mayors lifting face-covering requirement with request
BY IVAN SANDERS
Local mayors in Carter, Unicoi, and Washington Counties are moving forward to lift the current face-covering requirement with a face-covering request effective on Friday, February 19, 2021, at 11:59 pm.
The first executive order regarding face coverings began in July 2020.
There were three reasons given behind the decision in requesting citizens to wear the face-coverings.
The first reason presented was that citizens have demonstrated that they can and will protect their neighbors by wearing face coverings when physical distancing is not possible.
Also, the increase in vaccinations continues to show a rise in Northeast Tennessee as there is a large move into other age groups and phases. Along with the vaccinations, a decrease in patients in local hospitals has dropped significantly in the region.
There are some guidelines that will stay in place while moving to the request versus the requirement of wearing face coverings.
Businesses can still request face coverings be required when entering their business. The request also does not impact the safety measures currently in place in any of the school systems, colleges, or universities in regards to in-person learning.
Also, anyone entering buildings where court is conducted will still be required per the Tennessee Supreme Court’s orders.
Residents are reminded that the rules in place regarding limiting spectators or requiring face coverings at high school and college sporting events are not impacted.
These mayors have made recommendations to prevent them from having to return to a face-covering requirement.
First, the mayors request that citizens prevent community spread by physical distancing and avoiding large groups. When residents go to the grocery store or to church, the mayors are also asking for voluntary face-coverings due to physical distancing is not being possible.
Finally, the mayors ask that all businesses and individuals continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and Tennessee Pledge recommendations.
A statement made by the Mayors read as follows:
“The Mayors tried to strike a balance between public health objectives and the ability of individuals to make personal decisions for themselves and their families. Decisions made by individuals have an impact on others with whom they come in contact, so as the numbers escalated the face-covering requirement proved necessary during the early stages of the pandemic.
“Continuing to wear a face-covering voluntarily will help keep our schools and businesses open. Getting vaccinated is also instrumental in stopping the spread of COVID-19. We need to continue to work together, support, and protect each other as we move forward.”