WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s been one week since the mask mandate in Washington County, Tennessee took effect. The order began 12:01 a.m. on July 14th and is set to last until August 3rd, however, some local businesses are in favor of keeping the mandate around.
According to the mandate, face coverings must be worn over the nose and mouth by employees and visitors inside businesses, organizations or venues in use by members of the public, which is something a majority of employees were doing even before the order took place.
It also specifies that children age 12 and under are not required to wear a face covering.
Following a week under the order, business owners said most people have been compliant. “We haven’t had any problems, we were seeing about 80% mask usage before the mandate went into place and now everyone is required and they’ve all been receptive to it so far,” said Owner of Mill Spring Makers Market, Melinda Copp.
Copp said the mask mandate wasn’t new to their store. In fact, when they re-opened following closures because of the pandemic, all employees wore masks and they were suggesting their customers did the same. They also put out hand sanitizer at the entrance so people could clean their hands before shopping and looking around in the store.
When she heard the mandate was happening, she had no problem with it. “I was happy. I think that if the businesses are going to stay open and we’re wanting to keep things going, I think it’s the best way to keep everyone safe and hopefully keep everything going as smoothly as possible,” said Copp.
Other businesses in Jonesborough said they feel the same way. David Phillips, the Manager at Boone Street Market said their employees have also been wearing masks since re-opening along with constant sanitation of the store.
While most people have been compliant, he said there has been some push back from those refusing to wear masks. “I’ve been called every name in the book and cursed at. I’ve been threatened, I’ve been followed around town by people I’ve asked to wear a mask, but most of the people that come in here want to wear a mask,” said Phillips.
However, for the most part, his regular clientele has been great at following the rules and for those who don’t have a mask, they’ve been providing masks to their customers so there is no excuse not to wear one.
Although the order expires on August 3rd, both of these merchants said they have no intention of loosening these safety measures. Copp said they will closely monitor the numbers when the time comes and make decisions from there but Phillips plans to keep these current policies in place.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing as far as requiring face masks and hand washing and no more than five people in the store at one time,” said Phillips.
Washington County Mayor, Joe Grandy, also told News Channel 11 his thoughts regarding the mandate so far.
Grandy said just in Jonesborough alone, he’s seen a significant increase in people wearing masks while out and about.
He feels that the mandate came at the right time while cases were continuing to rise across our region. While it can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks to start seeing the positive impacts of wearing masks in public, he believes this will make a tremendous difference and stands behind the mandate.
“We’re just going to have to live with it and we’re going to have to figure out ways to exist and have the most normal lives we can in a safer way,” said Grandy.
For those not wearing masks or pushing back, he wants to remind the public that wearing a mask isn’t about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you.
“If you care about the folks that are around you and you care about the people you work with, the people you socialize with and go to church with, then you wear a mask,” said Grandy.
While the mandate will expire on August 3rd, Grandy said he will follow the lead of the Governor regarding any possible extension of the mandate.