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No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service | New signs encourage Knoxville businesses to enforce mask policies

The state says businesses have the right to refuse service to any customers who choose not to wear a mask.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Friday, the City of Knoxville introduced new signs for businesses. 

"No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service," one read. "Thank you for wearing a mask," said another.

Both end with "Gratefully, your hard-working staff."

The signs are available for businesses here and are not a requirement but an option for businesses who want them.

As more and more businesses open their doors, local leaders have raised concerns over whether members of the public are choosing to wear face coverings.

"There's leaders in the community that are not wearing masks," Councilwoman Lauren Rider told the health department on May 1. "It just doesn't appear that a lot of people are taking it seriously."

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Credit: City of Knoxville

While some states and municipalities have chosen to enforce mask policies, current guidelines in neither Knox County nor the state of Tennessee go beyond a recommendation, with the exception of close-contact services like salons.

"It's really about looking out for your neighbors and your friends and your loved ones and all of those people that may be susceptible to having complications from this," Charity Menefee with the Knox County Health Dept. said on Friday. "We don't want to spread it." 

Health officials have said that masks are not to protect the wearer, but are for the protection of others around them. Wearing a mask will not prevent you from getting sick, but could keep you from spreading the illness if you have it and are not aware of it.

A spokesperson from Governor Bill Lee's office confirmed to 10News that while the state is not enforcing any mask policies, businesses have the right to refuse customers who do not wear them.

Some retail chains, like Costco Wholesale, have already started to require masks for all customers and employees.

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