Brittain: Reaction to lifting of mandate has been mixed

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Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said that he has gotten some feedback from the public since the mask mandate lifted four days ago.

The feedback is mixed, he said.

“I’ve heard some folks say they were disappointed I lifted it,” he said.

But, he said those who opposed the mask mandate and those who supported it has always been 50/50.

The lifting of the countywide mask mandate comes as numbers trend downward for active cases and deaths.

There were a total of eight new cases reported Friday, which is the range of cases at the start of the pandemic a year ago and the county has a seven-day average of 12.7 cases per day, which is significantly lower than peaks in July and December when it was reaching an average of almost per day over a seven-day period.

The county has also reported no new deaths in the last several days.

This comes with ongoing vaccination programs such as extended hours at the Hamblen County Health department for two days a week and the ever increasing number of providers coming online able to give the vaccinations.

Brittain said last week the reason for lifting restrictions on April 1 included he felt most people who would wear a mask would still continue to do so and the most vulnerable populations have been protected.

Over the last week, some restrictions have been lifted. The City of Morristown stopped checking temperatures at the door of the City Center as patrons walk in. Brittain said there would be some relaxations at the Hamblen County Courthouse.

Within the administrative side of the building, temperatures will not be taken and masks will not be required. He said he is still encouraging people to wear a mask and to socially distance.

The courtrooms, however, will be led by different rules due to state Supreme Court orders.

He said the Supreme Court has ruled masks must be worn inside courtroom.The mask mandate has also been lifted just as students start to return to in-class teaching.

Most students will be required to be in class Monday, the day after Hamblen County school’s spring break.

There are some exceptions to this and some students will still be eligible to complete online learning for the rest of the school year.

But, the majority of students will be in class.