Sevier County business owners meet to discuss concerns, questions with health officials

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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of Sevier County’s business community met with Tennessee Health Department officials Monday to review the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

The meeting was also an opportunity for local businesses to get their questions answered about how to effectively slow the spread of the virus; as Sevier County has recently experienced a spike in positive cases in the area.

WATE 6 On Your Side Reporter Elizabeth Kuebel was in Pigeon Forge Monday afternoon and spoke with leaders about what was discucssed and the message that they have for all of us.

“We’re constantly meeting to figure out what steps we can take to urge our citizens to adhere to these guidelines,” Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said. “Again, we don’t have the authority to mandate but we can continue to put information out.”

The meeting is also an opportunity for the business community to ask questions of the health department; particularly important timing, ahead of an anticipated busy Fourth of July weekend.

“We talked about doing it before the Fourth of July because we’d have a number of visitors coming in to the county,” Waters said.

“Our reservations have already accumulated for this weekend, but I am not going to increase the amount of people who can be inside of the ship,” Mary Kellog-Joslyn with The Titanic Museum said.

The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge’s owner says the attraction won’t be making any changes following Monday’s meeting, because she says they’ve been doing everything that’s been asked from the get-go.

“We require all our of crew members and all of our guests to wear masks, and that has not been a problem, we require reservations,” Kellog-Joslyn said.

Following a recent order to mandate mask-wearing in Nashville and Memphis, Sevier County’s mayor says someone raised a similar question in their discussion on Monday.

“The answer was no, not from a local level, it had to come from the state level or health department level,” Waters said.

But, the mayor is still reminding people of the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing: “We just want you to follow the guidelines when you’re out and we think that will help all of us.”

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