SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Sevier County officials announced Tuesday that the mask mandate would expire Thursday, April 15 and that it would not be renewed.
Officials said that the decision was made after considering the county's decreasing COVID-19 positivity rate and the increase in the availability of vaccines. However, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters also urged people to continue wearing masks when social distancing is not possible.
“While the mandate appears to have had a positive impact on COVID-19 in Sevier County, I said from the beginning this was a temporary order,” said Waters. “We urge our citizens and visitors to follow the Tennessee Pledge and CDC guidelines to keep our COVID-19 numbers low.”
Businesses in Sevier County will be able to continue creating regulations on masks, officials said. The Tennessee Supreme Court's order for people to wear masks in some government buildings will also continue to apply.
Public areas of the Sevier County government including the sheriff's office, libraries and public works will also still have a mask requirement, officials said.
They said that the original mask mandate, Sevier County Executive Order 23, was meant to increase the number of people who wore masks in an attempt to protect the health of residents, visitors and employees — ensuring the state did not take additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I appreciate the business community, our employees, citizens, and visitors for following the mandate," said Waters. "There are no further restrictions or closures on our local businesses from the state, and Sevier County continues to see excellent tourism numbers.”