Knox Co. Board of Health extends COVID-19 regulations, passes regulation condemning threats

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County’s Board of Health extended a set of COVID-19 regulations for several more weeks.

Board members took the action at their first meeting of the new year on Wednesday evening.

The board voted to extend the 10 p.m. restaurant curfew and social gathering limit, both to 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 4.

COVID-19 Restaurant Occupancy Limitation and Early Closure Regulation

In an 8-2 vote, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and citizen representative Ani Roma both voted ‘no’ to extending the COVID-19 Restaurant Occupancy Limitation and Early Closure Regulation.

“I’m concerned that this regulation, the way that it’s so specific, might be contributing to some distrust and non-adherence, and it places an un-proportional burden on restaurants and bars,” Roma said.

Member Dr. Marcy Souza aruged for keeping it in place, citing UT students’ upcoming return to campus.

“They’re going to be rolling back in to town, and I guess that just worries me a little bit if you look at what happened back in September, we had the influx of students come back in and we saw that first spike this fall,” Dr. Souza said.

COVID-19 Social Gathering Limitation

In another vote, nine members were on board with extending the COVID-19 Social Gathering Limit.

The mayor was the only dissenting vote.

Condemning Threats or Use of Violence

Other action taken by the board included passing a resolution titled “Condemning Threats or Use of Violence.”

The new resolution was spurred by a public forum speaker, who brought up recent threats made against Knox County commissioners.

It was met with unanimous support by the health board.

“We condemn threats against them. We condemn the threats against us that we’ve had to report to law enforcement and to ask for additional protection,” Dr. O’Brien said. “But we stand ready to do what we can as the Board of Health to look for better health for all of us, and trying to threaten us or threaten the Knox County commission is just not the way to go.”

The Knox County Board of Health will meet again on Jan. 27.

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