Knox County Board of Health Votes to Close Bars

Bars across Knox County will close again on Monday. The Knox County Board of Health voted last night to again close bars in the county in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Board Member Dr. Patrick O’Brien said, “Action of some kind is warranted and certainly better than inaction.”

The order affects any business that has 50% or more of its revenues coming from the sale of alcohol. It goes into effect just after midnight Monday morning. The debate lasted several hours last night, board members weighed the economic impact.

“If we’re terribly sensitive to the fact that we’ve got to keep this economy going, but we also have to keep everyone safe,” said Board Member Dr. Maria Hurt. “The longer bars stay open to the community, the higher the risk to the community at large.”

7 of the 8 members on the Board of Health voted in favor of the measure. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs was the only dissenting vote. During the meeting Mayor Jacobs said, “I understand this is a very hard decision for all of you and I understand this is nothing we want to be, any of us, making a decision about. I do believe that this still does put the county at liability. I have to vote no.”

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon who earlier this week urged the commission to close bars issued a statement:

“I’m grateful for the robust discussion by the medical professionals on the Knox County Board of Health. Navigating a global pandemic is something none of us have ever done before. Tonight’s actions are a step in the right direction. It’s important to remember that it’s the pandemic that is hurting our economy, not our efforts to curb it.”

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