Coronavirus Tennessee: Residents react to Sevier County mask mandate

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SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Sevier County’s mayor announced the county will issue a new mask mandate.

It requires masks to be worn in all public indoor places where social distancing is not possible. The new mandate orders law enforcement to use “reasonable care” to address violations, adding the mayor requests first-time offenders be given a warning.

It does not apply to children 12 or younger.

The mandate goes into effect Friday.

So how do Sevier County residents and tourists feel about the new mandate? People we spoke to have opinions on both sides of the issue.

“I wear a mask every time I leave the house,” said Angela Michael, who works in Sevier County.

“I would rather stay at home than wear a mask,” said Sevier County resident Reggie Taylor. “Let the citizens decide. If they want to wear a mask, fine, I’m ok with that. If they want to wear a mask, I am not saying, ‘don’t you dare wear a mask.’ I would never do that. There are some folks out there that do have health issues, I understand. But when it comes to me, I should be able to make that decision on my own.”

“Wear your mask,” said Teresa Burke, a Sevier County resident. “I understand some people have claustrophobia issues, I do as well, but you also have to think of the well being of everybody else and not just yourself.”

Some touched on Sevier County’s popularity as a tourist destination in their responses.

“We have a lot of visitors in here, and it doesn’t just go for locals, it goes for visitors too,” Burke said.

Tourist Stephanie Fornataro, who is planning to be in town next week, said she was already planning on wearing a mask.

“If it helps keep other people safe, I think it’s the least that I can do, it’s a minor inconvenience,” Fornataro said.

“We want you to come and see the mountains and enjoy yourselves, but please respect the citizens that live there, and just take the precautions like we’re doing for you. Wear your mask,” said Michael.

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