Mar 20 2020
02:07 pm


Mayor Indya Kincannon issued an executive order Friday, March 20, 2020 to close restaurants, bars, gyms and commercial event venues amid growing concerns over COVID-19. The order will allow restaurants and bars to offer delivery and take-out service.

Mayor Kincannon said, “Many people in our community will be returning from spring break trips to areas with community spread of COVID-19. I feel it is my responsibility to take all the preventative measures possible to reduce the health impacts in the City of Knoxville.”

Mayor Kincannon applauds the steps taken today by the Knox County Health Department, which apply across the County. The Mayor added, “I did not make this decision lightly, but it was clear this was necessary for the City after careful consultation with area leaders, businesses and health experts.”

Among those consulted were former Governor Bill Haslam who said, “I think Mayor Kincannon is wise to continue to take steps to lessen the impact of this virus. While some of these efforts may be painful in the short term, we will all benefit in the long run from staying home and doing our part.”

Dr. Kathleen C. Brown, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor and Director of the UTK MPH Program in the Department of Public Health, and Dr. Marcy Souza, DVM, MPH, and Professor at the UTK Department of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine, agree with these proactive measures.

The doctors said, “We support the actions of Mayor Kincannon to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The CDC had recommended keeping any gatherings to less than 10 people because of the high transmissibility and large numbers of individuals with mild or no symptoms. Converting restaurants to take-out only and temporarily closing bars and gyms will help achieve this directive. This action will serve the greater good of our community as we deal with this unprecedented pandemic.”

Support also comes from UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman who said this morning, “I am thankful for the Mayor’s leadership on this and am completely supportive of these measures. I urge UT students to stay home, commit to social distancing, and keep themselves and our larger community healthy.”

The YMCA of East Tennessee also backs this decision. YMCA President Jim Dickson said, ““I think the Mayor’s choice to close gyms is a smart step to contain any chance of spreading the virus. Especially with the people coming back from spring break this weekend. The YMCA will continue to provide emergency childcare for our current families, medical staff, first responders and work with other community agencies to efficiently serve our community through this crisis."

The City of Knoxville will be designating metered parking spaces in front of restaurants and relaxing meter enforcement to help expedite pick-up service for restaurants and bars.

The Mayor also encourages small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to tap into the resources and guidance being offered by the Small Business Administration and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

This executive order will go into effect tonight at 8 p.m. and will remain in effect for 2 weeks.

michael kaplan's picture

How will this be enforced?

How will this be enforced? What about scooters? Will disinfectant wipes be provided?

R. Neal's picture

According to the executive

According to the executive order: "All City of Knoxville departments, boards, commissions, offices, and agencies that exercise enforcement or regulatory authority, including but not limited to the Knoxville Police Department, are authorized and directed to take immediate action to enforce this Order and order any persons violating this Order to cease and desist such violation and to otherwise enforce this Order as provided by law."

The order doesn't mention anything about scooters.

michael kaplan's picture

Citizens should be advised to

Citizens should be urged to report violations through 311. Otherwise, how would this be enforced when police are already overworked and understaffed?

Also -- just heard on news that county bars will remain open, with 10% max occupancy and no standing permitted. Near impossible to enforce. Very dangerous.

R. Neal's picture

"just heard on news that

"just heard on news that county bars will remain open, with 10% max occupancy and no standing permitted."

The county health department order says "Knox County bars, or businesses licensed to serve food whose primary business is alcohol service, shall close for business until further notice."

michael kaplan's picture

New Orleans


Mike Knapp's picture

Absolutely critical move - Lock the doors and report break ins

Until we have abundant testing, measures such as these have to be taken. It's all about sparks and transmission chains. 2 sides of the same coin - compliance and enforcement. "Bars, gyms, and restaurants" - IOW places where ppl gather in groups (of potentially wide ranging ages) of 10 or more. The window has closed nationally on containment, but slowing smaller scale community transmission in places like Knoxville, TN, Charleston, WV or Sioux Falls, SD is still possible. The cops may be a component of formal enforcement, but local news having a story about how your gym/bar/pub/restaurant is still open during a pandemic is bad for business both now and later.

Understanding what works: How some countries are beating back the coronavirus

Any universities still in session should send students home, especially those living in dormitories “which are one step away from cruise ships in terms of density and poor ventilation,” he said.

Lipsitch said time is limited to make a difference.

“The data that we just assembled from Wuhan about the timing and magnitude of the peak demand for critical care shows first that it can very quickly — even without that many people being infected compared to the whole population — exceed per capita bed capacity in the United States,” Lipsitch said.

He noted there was a four-week lag between the shutdown of Wuhan and the overwhelming of critical care units. “So if you wait till you see a problem, then you have another month of agony, at least.”

It appeared that was the kind of message Britain was not heeding.

Don’t wait - Stay ahead of and flatten the curve.

Rachel's picture

COK employees have been

COK employees have been encouraged to work from home if possible beginning Monday.

Knoxoasis's picture

And someone needs to fence

And someone needs to fence off Pigeon Forge, send everyone home and don't let anyone back in. Honestly you wouldn't know that anything was happening looking at the Parkway.

bizgrrl's picture

Odd situation in Sevier

Odd situation in Sevier County.

Thursday the mayors in Sevier County asked local businesses to take recommendations for slowing the virus more serious, but said they lack the authority to force businesses to close. Friday the mayors asked the state health department to require restaurants to limit capacity to 50 percent and all bars to close.
A citizen speaks,

"Our officials failing to give an advisory to close is endangering lives. Not only of our employees, but we're endangering the lives of people that are coming here as well as their families when they're carrying it back if they get infected," said King, who is a type 1 diabetic. "I know for a fact from talking to local business owners, they will close if they are advised to do so. But until then, they are not going to close."

Mike Knapp's picture

This is spot on - Was in the mtns over last week

Probably confirmation bias but seemed like a lot more outta state plates than normal, one of the ranger ricks said the same - California, Washington etc. Seems like possible spots where sparks would fly into East TN would be from domestic clusters “escaping” to play lands like Gatlinburg. They need to pull the plug on ppl intense tourist spots. Europe doing it to ski resorts, domestics following suit.

Joe328's picture

Positive Cases: Sevier 2, Knox 15

I agree that Sevier County should do more, but the numbers show Knoxville/Knox County has bigger problem.

bizgrrl's picture

I wonder if the Knox County

I wonder if the Knox County people got the virus while visiting elsewhere, e,g, Sevier County.

Joe328's picture

Perhaps Sevier County

Perhaps Sevier County practices better personal hygiene. If 15 Knox County reisdents caught it in Sevier County then explain why Sevier County only has 2.

Moon's picture


I just saw four empty KAT buses driving around downtown this Saturday afternoon.

jmcnair's picture

Your point?

So poor people and folks without cars _can_ get places if they need to, but are taking the advice of experts and not going out to spread the virus. What is the problem?

PM Parris's picture

Not sure what the point is

Likewise, those with less means or without cars may still need to get to a job, etc. Bus drivers are not likely to get re-purposed to, say, run the ER. Presumably the buses are being cleaned more aggressively on a routine basis, if the point was "they might spread the virus". That's a legit concern, but I think we have to defer to KAT on that. I believe for now buses are considered essential.

Moon's picture

"I believe for now buses are considered essential"

Two of the empty buses were downtown trolleys. That's a ridiculous prioritization of resources right now. Bringing non-existent college students to the bars on Gay Street and South Knoxville? Someone should be fired for that decision.

fischbobber's picture


Right now the great failure amongst Republicans is their failure to act on anything that doesn't include huge bribes and payoffs for the wealthy. It is absolutely prudent to keep public transportation open for essential workers. We can sort and fine tune later. Right now, developing a working plan and maintaining social infrastructure to keep people fed and getting their medicines and necessaries trumps any minimal savings disrupting this service would produce. Kincannon is doing well, considering this is sort of trial by fire. This is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Hunker down. Winter is coming.

Moon's picture

6:10 pm, Saturday. In front of the City County Building

Not too big of a demand for people needing a ride from the City County Building to campus. As in, zero people.


R. Neal's picture

So maybe there needs to be

So maybe there needs to be some dynamic, real-time analysis of data and usage patterns to optimize routes and resources.

Or, an app to summon a personal bus on demand! (Sorry, just kidding.)

jbr's picture

America's public transit

jbr's picture

What are the other stops on

What are the other stops on route?

jmcnair's picture


Sunsphere, Candy Factory, Whatever FourPoints is now, campus, Publix and businesses at University Commons, Orange line is the Downtown/grocery hookup.

michael kaplan's picture

I haven't done a scientific

I haven't done a scientific study, but most buses I see run empty or near empty. Agree, bus service is essential for some, but it does seem there is waste in the system. But there's waste everywhere. I'm still seeing F-150s (driver only) zooming down residential streets at speeds way too high, and idling in grocery parking lots ...

fischbobber's picture

0% Loans

See here is the thing about 0% loans. They pay for themselves as long as you spend them and put the money back into the cashflow of the economy. It pays to keep that bus running. We won't know until after the spring break curve plays out, and something will happen, how bad our first wave is going to be. We're about ten days out, a little less maybe. If our first wave holds, and we get used to face masks ( I bought a sewing machine. I'm not going to wait for a lazyass capitalist to do anything that nets him less than that 4000% profit he thinks he's earned. I'm making my own damn facemasks and riding the greenways.), I think we can be a model for battling this disease. I think the maps should be posted and sprayed and wiped clean by the drivers in the absence of riders. It is imperative that as many people possible be kept employed through this crisis. How are we going to know the pockets where people are breaking protocol if city street workers aren't working the streets? It's smart government to keep that bus running. It pays for itself.

michael kaplan's picture

Bus drivers - like everyone

Bus drivers - like everyone else - should be doing something useful. Keeping an eye out for violations of city/county emergency ordinances is useful. Delivering food/drugs to persons in need could be useful. Yes, they should remain employed, but usefully employed.

fischbobber's picture


One crappy weather Saturday on the eve of the apocalypse is hardly a baseline data point by which to redesign future city transportation systems. As a taxpayer, being accountable for backing this, the first thing I'm asking myself is what kind of neighbor and boss do I want to be? Second, since we don't know if we need that route in two weeks or not, it behooves all of us to have a motivated, diligent, highly invested employee, not on coughing up the bus for revenge against all the assholes that went out of their way to screw up the workers lives. This is about doing right by people, not profit. Profit is done for a while.

jbr's picture

Could the buses be utilized

Could the buses be utilized to do mobile testing?

michael kaplan's picture

great idea. in fact, they

great idea. in fact, they could be used for mobile services of any kind.

jbr's picture

You could keep the current

You could keep the current routes and put a testing station at one of the stops all day. Alternate it between routes. Folks could drive to it or ride the bus.

fischbobber's picture

The city

The city should have a transportation capability. A fully operational bus service is a vital component towards that end. Let's keep them running as a commitment to the hope that normal, or new normal behavior will return.

It's fair to be upfront with the bus drivers. People are bitching. Document your value. Request cleaning supplies. Use them. As people downsize, our bus system will become more important. We'll need you then, we need you now. Be flexible. Demand the routes be run. Make sure all the bike mounts work.

Wash your hands. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe stuff down. Practice social distancing. Teach social distancing.

Keep your sanitizer stash close at hand as often as possible. Share it with everyone you encounter.

jbr's picture

Are all new inmates brought

Are all new inmates brought into Knox jails tested as part of admissions process?

jbr's picture

Eating outside on restaurant patios

At lunch today I drove by a Chik-Fil-A on Kingston Pike and saw a few groups sitting and eating at outside tables. It didn't occur to me that we could do that. So we can get take-out at a restaurant and eat on the restaurant's patio?

bizgrrl's picture

I saw that at McDonald's as

I saw that at McDonald's as well. You're supposed to be in small groups (can't remember the size) and 6 feet apart. Don't know if this is acceptable.

jbr's picture

With warmer weather coming

With warmer weather coming that seems like we will see a lot of that. Restaurants with large patios would have an advantage over others. The food truck park, etc.

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