Lee’s signal opens Farragut, Knox Co. to maskless options

Farragut officials moved quickly last week following announcements from Gov. Bill Lee and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs relaxing mandated mask policies, and Town administrator David Smoak announced “masks are now optional in the Town of Farragut and live meetings are resuming” as of Wednesday, April 28.

“Given Gov. Lee’s recent Executive Order (80) and Knox County’s guidance, Town of Farragut facilities will now allow individuals to make a personal choice on wearing a mask,” Smoak added.

“However, as citizens are still getting vaccinated, the Town will continue to follow social distancing regulations through the month of May to protect the public, staff and elected officials.”

The actions of both Lee and Jacobs were same-day swift Tuesday, April 27, and seemingly unexpected.

Lee issued Executive Order 80, which not only ended state-wide public health orders, it also ended the authority to issue mask requirements in the 89 counties under the state health department’s guidance

“A widely available vaccine changes everything and it’s a new season in Tennessee,” Lee stated. “I am not renewing any public health orders because COVID-19 is no longer a health emergency in our state. Remaining executive actions will address a few lingering economic and regulatory issues. We have never had a statewide mask mandate, and I am removing authority from local officials to issue mask requirements.

“I have asked mayors in our Big six counties to remove any remaining mask mandates and business restrictions before Memorial Day weekend,” he added. “This is about trusting Tennesseans, using the tools we have at our disposal to move on from crisis management and back to life and back to business.

“Tennessee is moving forward thanks to her people.”

Jacobs, after consulting with Knox County law department, decided to sunset the mandatory mask policy at midnight that same night.

Regarding Lee’s announcement, Jacobs said, “This is a significant development that demonstrates we are another step closer to getting back to normal. I am deeply grateful to (Knox County Department of Health senior director) Dr. (Martha) Buchanan and her team for the uncompromising work they have done throughout the pandemic.

“Thankfully, now they can begin returning to normal business,” he added. “... It is still everyone’s personal responsibility to protect themselves and their families from the virus. We should all be understanding and respectful of how people choose to do that as we move forward.”

Town live meetings details

Town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen will meet in-person in the Assembly Room of Farragut Community Center beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 13, for the first in-person meeting since March 2020, and will meet again May 27.

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission will meet Thursday, May 20.

Mayor Ron Williams said BOMA will be voting to change the meeting time going forward to 6 p.m. during the May 13 meeting, which also would apply to FMPC meetings.

Williams broached the change following the April 15 FMPC meeting, which ran until nearly midnight.

“For the sake of the staff, we are planning to start meeting at 6 for both BOMA and FMPC,” he said.

Meetings will be held in the Community Center through the end of May, he added, then are expected to resume in the Boardroom of Town Hall.

“To be careful, we will go another month and hope to be back in the Town Hall in June,” Williams said, noting physical distancing is still enforced.