SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — On Friday, Tennessee Commissioner of Tourist Development Mark Ezell spent the day meeting with Sevier County businesses.
He knew they'd be busy with the opening of small, non-contact recreational activities and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"We do anticipate a lot of folks wanting to come to Tennessee," he told 10News. "It's such a great place in a beautiful state."
He said visitors will help with the region's economic recovery.
"Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs during this last six week period and we know that the majority of those are in the hospitality and leisure section," he said. "We hope you'll wear a mask."
He said he was meeting with business owners to make sure they followed the Tennessee Pledge. A successful first phase is essential for a second phase to happen. Here's what Saturday, May 9, 2020 looked like in Sevier County.
As Commissioner Ezell predicted, Gatlinburg was crowded over the weekend. Not many people wore masks, however some chose to use the extra lane commissioners closed.
The Newfound Gap parking lot was crowded, but most families tried to stay apart.
"We've been waiting for an opportunity to kind of get out in a safe way since we've been cooped up," Joshua Ravenscraft told 10News. "We figured it was a good time to get out and get some fresh air for a little bit."
He said he had seen a lot of people, but that he was impressed by everyone staying apart.
"I think everybody's doing a really good job at staying distant and having respect for what's going on," he said."
In Pigeon Forge, some closed attractions displayed messages with the Tennessee Pledge.
Commissioner Ezell said he was working with Sevier County businesses to ensure they were following the guidelines.
A view from the top of Newfound Gap on Saturday afternoon.
One couple was wearing masks as they walked through the streets of Gatlinburg Saturday evening. Most people weren't, despite advice from public health leaders.
Small, non-contact attractions like go-karting were allowed to reopen in most of Tennessee.
The SkyLift Park, as well as other larger attractions, remain closed under Executive Order 30 until at least May 29.