Knox County Board of Health approves regulation closing bars as cases of the coronavirus surge

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Bars ordered closed in Knox County from Aug. 3 to Aug. 20

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — UPDATE (8:45 p.m.) — The Knox County Board of Health approved an amended resolution to say the regulation closing bars in Knox County shall take effect 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 3 and it will expire at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 20, unless renewed by the Board of Health prior to that date.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs was the only dissenting vote.

Member Dr. Maria Hurt brought forward the proposal at Wednesday night’s virtual meeting. She told the board, “This proposes that we, until we get a handle and really begin to flatten the curve, that we close local bars.”

“The definition is going to, I believe, primarily involve establishments that do not serve food or serve food as a very small part of their business,” said Board of Health Chairman, Dr. Jack Gotcher.

Following the meeting, we asked Dr. Gotcher about enforcement and punishment. “To be determined,” he said. “We would hope that enforcement would be done on an educational level first and punishments would not be meted out unless it was just an egregious response.”

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon released a statement following Wednesday night’s Board of Health meeting:

“I am grateful for the robust discussion by the medical professionals on the Board of Health. Navigating a global pandemic is something none of us have ever done before. Tonight’s actions are a step in the right direction. It’s important to remember that it’s the pandemic that is hurting our economy, not our efforts to curb it.”  

Indya Kincannon, mayor, City of Knoxville

The board also agreed its next meeting will take input from a public forum via Zoom. The details of that forthcoming meeting will be determined after the county coordinates with its IT department.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of the Knox County Board of Health convened for the July 29 meeting via Zoom to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and local response.

The meeting agenda had several more items on it than past meetings, along with possible action regarding local bars.

Apart from regular meeting procedures, Wednesday’s meeting will go over items such as: The board of health’s face covering regulation (which had been approved July 1), reports on enforcement of said regulation, the public-private partnership to encourage face coverings; the University of Tennessee Medical Center Knoxville data report; a benchmark presentation from the Knox County Health Department; the federal visit to Knoxville and discussion of Tennessee being labeled a “red zone” state; a review of local bars and discussion of possible action; and a review of the letter of support the board plans to send to Knox County Schools.

The meeting began at 5 p.m.

On Tuesday, the Knoxville city mayor sent the board a letter of support that also urged them to close bars and limit indoor dining, as recommended by White House coronavirus taskforce adviser Dr. Debora Birx in her visit to Knoxville earlier this week.

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