New Guidance from the Knox County Health Department

Images from a downtown Knoxville walk during a COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020
Images from a downtown Knoxville walk during a COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020

The Knox County Health Department has issued stronger guidelines, including the requirement that bars close and specific limitations for restaurants which are similar to those issued by the city, but seem to be issued as requirements, rather than suggestions and are stronger in some respects. It does continue to allow restaurants to remain open at half capacity.

It also addresses people returning from Spring Break (I assume we’ve all seen the images of crowded beaches) saying that those people, “should self-isolate.” While I’m glad that was addressed, it is hard for me to imagine someone who thought it was fine to hang out on the beach with thousands a day or two ago is going to “self-isolate” for the two weeks which would make that matter. Still, I’m not sure how you would do anything else to enforce it or even identify those returning.

The CDC numbers as of mid-day today are 15,219 confirmed cases and 201 deaths, which represents more than double the cases from two days before and double the deaths from two days prior. The numbers on their website will not be updated again until Monday.

Please be safe.

Here is the full press release. Note

Full Press Release from Knox County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Buchanon

Knox County Public Health Officer Dr. Martha Buchanan issued a Health Directive ordering the closure of bars and limiting capacity at restaurants. Knox County bars, or businesses licensed to serve food whose primary business is alcohol service, shall close for business until further notice.

Restaurants whose primary business is food service shall limit capacity to half the seating capacity of their dining area, as outlined by their Knox County Health Department (KCHD) permit, or 100 patrons, whichever is lower. Tables should be spaced, and seating arrangements coordinated, following the public health guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—which is maintaining a distance of at least six feet between persons.

Restaurants with an attached bar—also known as a food service establishment permitted as an auxiliary food service operation—shall limit capacity for the bar area to 10 percent of the capacity specified in their KCHD permit with no standing allowed in the bar area.

The order has no impact on a takeout or drive through services.

These new measures are being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the general public and impact in Knox County and surrounding areas. COVID-19 is an evolving situation, but Knox Countians are urged to exercise caution and maintain good hygiene practices as serious risks still exist for our vulnerable populations.

Social distancing is highly encouraged and those who are returning to the community from spring break travel should self-isolate in accordance to guidelines issued by the CDC. Travelers should only call the Knox County Health Department hotline if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 and shortness of breath or fever of 100.4 and a cough) or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 visit: