Knoxville Marks One Year of ‘Safer-at-Home’ Order; Other Tennessee Counties Allow Mask Mandates to Expire

April Fool’s Day marks one year since Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon issued the “safer-at-home” order, after three counties dropped their mask mandates. The counties of Hamblen, Roane, and Claiborn allowed their mandates to expire on Wednesday. Similar “15 days to slow the spread” practices turned into weeks, then months, and now, for many across Tennessee and the country.

Kincannon’s Safer at Home order lasted for nearly a month. It prohibited gatherings over 10 and forced closure of all “nonessential” businesses. The order empowered city officials with regulatory authority to take action against anyone who violated the order. The city even made available a non-compliance reporting process to enforce the order – which is still active.

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Commentary: It’s Time to Reopen America Now

On Tuesday, governors Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) announced they would be lifting their statewide mask-wearing mandates, business capacity limitations, and various other COVID-19-related restrictions. “COVID still exists,” Abbott said, “but it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations, and from the safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”

Texans and Mississippians might be forgiven for wondering why their governors did not earlier follow the courageous path of Governor Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who has garnered national headlines for her stubborn refusal to enact various mask-wearing mandates and other lockdown orders. But still: Better late than never.

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