Customer mask requirement rising with Town businesses

Now that many businesses have been allowed to resume, most are requiring face masks not only of their employees, but also of their customers.

The measure, believed by local, state and national officials to at least mitigate the spread of COVID-19, was included in Knox County Health Department’s COVID Reopen Plan in each of its planned three phases, each featuring at least 28 days.

Under general guidelines, the Plan initially stated, “It is strongly recommended (and at times required per the phase guidelines) that you wear a cloth face covering (mask) when unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of physical distancing while in public.”

However, as of April 30, the wording was amended as follows: “When 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained, employees and patrons must wear face coverings.”

While The Fresh Market was the first Farragut store to request customers wear the masks, Costco followed suit Monday, May 4.

Most businesses reopening last Friday — especially those in the personal care or salon field, but also restaurants — required masks be worn by barbers, hairstylists, nail technicians, clinicians and their clients. Some provided the face coverings for their customers, while others expected clientele to provide their own.

Farragut Mayor Ron Williams already was ahead of the curve on the mask requirements, as he has donned a face covering since the COVID-19 pandemic closures began and has continued to do so.

He also supports Knox County Health Department’s suggestions for others to follow suit.

“We need to keep with what has brought us this far,” Williams said. “Face masks and social distancing.

“This is our new normal, and the way I read the plan, I believe wearing a mask is the intent for everyone.”

He also noted the coverings don’t have to be elaborate.

“Women can wear scarves and men can wear bandanas,” he said.

Williams also said he planned to continue wearing a mask in the coming weeks, even when official Town meetings are allowed to resume.

Williams said Town Hall is tentatively expected to open when Phase 3 begins in July, in tandem with the Knox County Clerk’s satellite office re-opening there.

“We have still been conducting business and working with individuals while Town Hall has been closed,” Williams said. “We also recently made sure everything was online, so folks can do what they need.

“But we are having plastic shields installed at the front desk and upstairs, and they will be in place before we re-open,” he added.

“We don’t yet know when the Community Center can re-open, but we will have plastic shields in place there, too, in the reception area, before that occurs.”

Williams noted the next Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting might be held in the Community Center’s Main Assembly Room, but details have not yet been solidified.