KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- On Friday, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable issued a mask mandate in an Executive Order for all of Sullivan County.
The order went into effect for members of the public and most businesses at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning, making it the first official day of the order.
With the order now in effect, News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant spoke to Sullivan County business owners and community members to see what their thoughts are on the new mandate.
“We got to do what’s right, and I would rather wear a mask for 20 minutes in a grocery store than being told to stay at home and I can’t go out and do something,” said Arrick Blevins, owner of Tennessee Wood Works.
Following an increase in COVID-19 cases across the region, Sullivan County Mayor, Richard Venable, decided to issue a mask mandate for the entire county.
“I think that there’s going to be a little bit of backlash with it, but I think if everybody can get on board with the situation we can get through this as quickly as possible,” said Sullivan County resident Andrea Buchanan.
Trading Shop owner, Megan Muncy-Collins has two locations, one on the Virginia side of State Street in Bristol and the other in Downtown Kingsport.
Virginia has had a mask mandate already in place but Muncy-Collins said it’s been hard for customers to comply with the mandate.
“A lot of people have struggled being able to follow all the rules because there’s so many tourists coming in from other areas that are unaware of all of this, so we’ve had some issues with people following the rules there,” said Muncy-Collins. “It’s starting to resolve itself though now that Sullivan County is getting more on board.”
Though, for some, wearing a mask has become normal, it may be harder for others to comply to the new mandate.
“I also work at a hospital full-time, so I wear one at work; I’m trying to wear one out,” said Arrick Blevins. “I want life to get back to normal just like everybody else.”
“Our customers are wearing masks, and all the vendors are wearing masks to protect everyone, and it’s been comfortable out today so there’s no problem with it,” explained Andrea Buchanan.
Groups that are exempt from the order include children under two, anyone that has breathing troubles, and places of worship.
You also do not have to wear a mask if you are at a restaurant eating or drinking.
This order will remain in effect until August 12 or unless otherwise modified.