Editor’s note: This article is being updated as more information is made available.
As of April 15, 2021, the mask mandate for Sevier County has expired. Sevier County encompasses Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
The mask mandate was initially put in place on July 7, 2020, which was meant to run July 10-Aug. 3, 2020.
The mandate was extended for several months, remaining in place until April 15, 2021.
For a short time, the county also required masks in government buildings. But those mask mandates were discontinued on May 18, 2021.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently reinstated their mask mandate on July 30th, 2021 due to a rise in positive cases.
“Mask requirements for fully vaccinated visitors vary by park. In all parks, people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces,” the National Park Service states on nps.gov.
Local businesses may maintain their own mask requirements as well.
At the time the mandate was put in place, Mayor Larry Waters addressed the polarizing nature of the debate surrounding masks when making the original announcement over the summer.
“It is is not a political statement. Unfortunately, a lot of times this has become a political statement. Sevier County is a conservative county and it continues to be so. It is not in any way recognition of any kind of politics,” said Waters last summer.
“We’ve been consulting with healthcare officials … we have determined that ordering a face-covering mandate is in the interest of Sevier County.”
Below are some frequently asked questions about the coronavirus in Sevier County:
1. Where will masks be required?
There is no longer a county-wide mask mandate as of April 15, 2021.
However, masks are still required indoors inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the time being.
Local businesses may still require masks at their own discretion.
Dollywood, for instance, is no longer requiring masks for fully vaccinated visitors.
We at TheSmokies.com urge visitors to follow the guidance of these local businesses.
Also, remember to be patient as some businesses are experiencing staffing shortages.
2. When does the mask mandate end?
The mask mandate expired on April 15, 2021 in Sevier County.
The mandate had been in place since July of 2020.
3. Can I get vaccinated in Sevier County?
The Sevier County health department has vaccinations available.
Tennesseans age 12 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. Currently, more than three million Tennesseans have been vaccinated.
Roughly 45% of the state has had one dose.
If you have questions about the vaccine, please talk to your doctor.
Visit the Vaccinate.TN website to learn more or call (865) 442-5301.
4. Can I get tested in Sevier County?
The Sevier County Health Department offers testing for the coronavirus at 719 Middle Creek Road in Sevierville.
Self-test kids and drive-thru testing are available.
Appointments are not necessary. For more information, click here.
Current cases of coronavirus in Sevier County
According to the New York Times, as of August 9, 2021, in Sevier County there are currently 14,392 confirmed and probable cases.
“Cases have increased recently and are extremely high. The number of hospitalized patients has also risen in the Sevier County area. Deaths have remained at about the same level. The test positivity rate in Sevier County is high, suggesting that cases may be undercounted,” states the website.
Most places of business around the Smoky Mountains have been either partially or fully reopened.
For business owners, signs about safety requirements have been made available for download on the Sevier County website.
If you are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains, please follow state and local guidelines.
How mask mandates impacted Sevier County’s health and economy
According to a previous extension, featured in Executive Order No. 39, it is believed that mask compliance resulted in reductions of case counts and positivity rates last summer.
The mandate also indicated that this reduction allowed Sevier County to reopen safely while recovering a significant amount of tourism revenue.