KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — COVID-19 restrictions changed drastically in a matter of 24 hours.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that vaccinated people didn’t need to wear a mask outdoors, unless at a large event.
Then, Gov. Bill Lee announced the Tennessee Pledge was expiring, including the option for mayors to implement their own mask mandates.
With Knox County not falling under that due to having its own governing health department, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs shortly came out announcing the mask mandate in the county would also expire.
The COVID-19 restrictions lifting will change how outdoor events look, for some.
Whether or not a mask is required, capacity is limited, and if social distancing is needed all depends on where the outdoor event takes place, and who is in charge.
Restrictions or no restrictions, event organizers said it’s a big change from last year.
“Yeah we were just one of many events that got cancelled last year,” Jeff Muir, Communications Director for Blount Partnership.
The event he’s talking about is the Townsend Spring Festival, which is May 7-8 this year.
Blount County was never under a mask mandate, so before the announcement by Lee, the festival was going to follow the Tennessee Pledge, which includes capacity restrictions and social distancing recommendations.
Now, attendees will be able to do as they chose.
“There’ be no space restrictions, or no mask mandates at this festival,” Muir said.
Muir said the great aspect about the Townsend Spring Festival is that it’s always been pretty open, with plenty of space for visitors to roam.
In Knoxville, just because the governor and county mayor lifted restrictions, doesn’t mean anything has changed for events held on city-owned properties.
That’s why Matt McMillan, an organizer with Tailgating for a Cause, said they were pushing back the date for the Knoxville Brew Fest.
Not having the festival was a huge disappointment in 2020, McMillan said.
It was supposed to be the 10th anniversary of the event, and it’s a big portion of their fundraising goals.
The festival, which is a large fundraiser for CureDuchenne, was originally supposed to be held June 19.
However, McMillan said the organizers have been debating whether to push it back, because they haven’t been able to figure out how to keep the same atmosphere of the festival and follow the guidelines needed to host at World’s Fair Park.
“Trying to keep people in pods or tables, similar to a lot of being with your household. S,o it’s kind of really tough to reimagine the event when we’re used to getting a couple thousand people together to share beer and mingle and interact in all sorts of different ways and kind of the freedom to roam and explore,” McMillan said.
McMillan said the governor and county mayor liftin certain restrictions is an exciting step for outdoor events, but he’s still waiting on what city leaders say.
He said the festival will be pushed back until the end of the summer because they can’t change the setup overnight.
“We just want to make sure folks can be outside safely, and I think we’re making good progress there. So I think if we can kind of just get a yes or no or here’s what to expect, that will go a long way to letting us create a solid plan,” McMillan said.
Knoxville leaders said they are constantly reevaluating health guidelines and talking with partners about best practices moving forward.
Leaders said they would keep event organizers in the loop when anything changes.