SULLIVAN CO., Tenn. (WJHL) — COVID-19 cases are reaching concerning levels in Sullivan County, prompting a mask mandate to go into effect this weekend.
Friday afternoon, health and government leaders in Sullivan County announced that mandate will take effect starting at 12:01 am Sunday for the public and most businesses.
“Believe it or not, last night, I only had two customers that had a mask on and the rest of them didn’t have any,” said Twin Cities Drive-In co-owner, Ellen Warden. “I’m all for it…I’m all for it. I think people should be safe.”
She says masks will now be required when guests leave their car space at the Bristol theater.
The mandate in effect for businesses, organizations, and venues. But, businesses do not have to provide the masks. The order also notes that children under two or anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear masks. Places of worship are also exempt from the requirements of the order.
But county Mayor Richard Venable said the order cannot be enforced.
“You can’t say it’s going to be mandated and not enforce it but also this is America,” said Bristol resident Brandon Graybeal. “Are you going to fine someone or put them in jail and have potential court costs over something so silly?”
He says that he and his wife only wear masks at church because the leadership asks them to although previous orders by Gov. Bill Lee do not require masks in places of worship.
“Me and my wife don’t wear a mask when we go out in public,” Graybeal said. “We do have respect for our spiritual leadership…when we go to church of course we wear a mask.”
The order comes after a week of increasing case numbers and two deaths due to the coronavirus in Sullivan County. It will remain in effect until 11:59 pm on August 12.