Planning a vacation to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg? What you need to know about wearing a mask


SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Planning an upcoming visit Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge? Here’s everything you need to know about Sevier County’s mask mandate.

When does it go into effect?

The mask mandate goes into effect Friday and runs through Aug. 3, in concurrence with Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order enabling local counties to issue their own mask requirements in the event of a spike in cases. Though both Gov. Lee’s order and the mandate could be extended if health conditions don’t improve.

Where must masks be worn?

Face coverings are mandatory in all public indoor places where social distancing is not possible, including all city incorporated areas. Private businesses are authorized under the mandate to implement stricter guidelines, such as requiring face coverings outdoors on private property, if they so choose.

What are the exceptions to the mandate?

The Sevier County School System is exempt from the mandate and will formulate its own reopening guidelines. There shall be no requirement that a face covering be worn under the following circumstances:

  • By a child twelve (12) years of age or younger.
  • While eating or drinking.
  • While outdoors. Persons outdoors are encouraged to follow Tennessee Pledge and maintain social distancing.
  • Within one’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for hire.
  • While in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged.
  • 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 cloth face covering without assistance.
  • While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others 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 voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged.

What is the consequence of non-compliance?

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters has requested that first-time offenders be given a warning and educated on the purpose of such order. According to Waters’ executive order, “law enforcement shall use reasonable care to address willful failure to follow this order and violators of this order in conjunction with Governor Lee’s recent Executive Order 54 may be subject to penalties as allowed by law.”

Could the order be canceled?

The Tennessee Department of Health is required to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak in Sevier County and provide detailed weekly updates to Waters. If the county mayor, along with the mayors and officials from the respective cities within Sevier County, deem the order ineffective in
slowing the spread of COVID-19 as demonstrated by data provided by the Tennessee Department of Health, the mask mandate can be rescinded earlier than Aug. 3.

Sevier County has had 857 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 482 recoveries and three deaths, according to Tennessee Deparmtent of Health statistics released Tuesday.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office announced the suspension of on-site visitation, including volunteer ministries, at all SCSO corrections facilities until further notice last Friday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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