Coronavirus: Knox County orders closure of bars, Sevier County requests restaurant seating limits

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County Department of Health officials have issued a directive ordering the closure of bars while Sevier County is asking the state to limit total restaurant occupancy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

All Knox County bars, or businesses licensed to serve food whose primary business is alcohol service, shall close for business until further notice following a directive from Knox County Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan on Friday.

RELATED: Tennessee COVID-19 cases hit 228, according to state health department

Restaurants whose primary business is food service shall limit capacity to half the seating capacity of their dining area or 100 customers, whichever is lower.

Tables should be spaced, and seating arrangements coordinated, following the public health guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between persons.

RELATED: Knoxville Mayor Kincannon issues executive order closing bars, gyms, clubs; puts limits on restaurants

Restaurants with an attached bar, also known as a food service establishment permitted as an auxiliary foodservice operation, shall limit capacity for the bar area to 10% of the capacity.

The mayors and city managers of Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Pittman Center, and Sevierville have requested the Tennessee Department of Health issue orders for restaurants and bars in Sevier County. The orders would include no more than 50% occupancy for in-building dining, closing bars, and following CDC guidelines for spacing.

The order has no impact on takeout or drive-thru services.

RELATED: CDC map shows locations of coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Social distancing is highly encouraged and those who are returning to the community from spring break travel should self-isolate in accordance with guidelines issued by the CDC.

Travelers should only call the Knox County Health Department hotline if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath or fever of 100.4 and a cough) or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

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