Three East Tennessee counties allow mask mandates to expire

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As more people become vaccinated, more counties are starting to feel more comfortable relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on March 31, three more East Tennessee counties will no longer have a mask mandate. The mayors of Hamblen, Roane and Claiborne counties are all choosing not to extend the mandate.

Ron “We hope we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what it is.”

For over a year now masks have become the new normal… But for three East Tennessee counties, thats about to change.

“I think it was time to let the mandate expire,” said Hamblen County mayor Bill Brittain.

These leaders say they’re following the data.

“We have an increasing number of people that are getting vaccinated in Claiborne county as well,” said Claiborne County mayor Joseph Brooks.

“Yesterday we were under 100 active cases,” Brittain said.

“We have 22 percent of our population who’s had one dose and we have 12 percent that are fully vaccinated with the second dose or getting the J and J (Johnson and Johnson),” said Roane county executive Ron Woody.

But we’re not quite out of the woods yet. The mayors are asking the public to still move with caution.

“The worst thing that can happen is we let our guard down and we see a spike in the number and I’m not just talking a small little spike, I’m talking a significant spike like we had in December,” Brittain said.

“We hope everybody stays safe out there still practice clean, healthy hygiene,” Woody said.

“I would encourage everyone to continue to follow the cdc guidelines to try at all costs to maintain the 6 foot social distancing, wash your hands as often as possible and just be considerate of those folks who are still wearing masks in and around our county,” Brooks said.

All three leaders say as far as small businesses go, they’re leaving it up to individual owners to choose whether they want to require masks in their establishments. Masks will still be required in some places like government buildings.

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