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Hawkins sheriff doesn't anticipate problems enforcing Emergency Declaration

Jeff Bobo • Mar 30, 2020 at 12:21 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Mayor Jim Lee declared a state of emergency in Hawkins County on Monday which orders non essential businesses to close, and non essential workers to stay home at least until Tuesday, April 7.

Among the highlights of the declaration are the suspension of certain provisions of the the Open Meetings Act, implementation of the Safer at Home Directive, and identifying the types of essential workers, businesses and services that can stay in operation. 

The declaration can be read in its entirety in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net

Declaration to be enforced by sheriff

The declaration further states that the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and any other Law Enforcement officials are authorized to enforce and close those businesses within Hawkins County in violation of this order.

Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told the Times News on Monday he doesn't anticipate any issues enforcing provisions of the Emergency Declaration.

“The public has been very well educated by President Trump and Gov. Bill Lee's executive orders, with the social distancing requirements, so I don't foresee any problems with the citizens of Hawkins County,” Lawson told the Times News. “With regards to the businesses I think everything will be going as it has been without much difference.”

KTN: Are church gathering going to be an issue?

Lawson: “Most churches I know of are already canceled and they're doing live streaming, and a lot of them are using ZOOM. I know our church has it's Sunday School classes on ZOOM, and different meetings are on ZOOM.”

KTN: What's an example of a situation where you believe the sheriff's office would have to become involved?

Lawson: “If there was a situation where I felt like the public was being endangered, and total disregard for the safety of others.”

Mayor Lee’s Declaration of Emergency

Mayor Lee’s declaration was issued late Monday morning and expires on Tuesday, April 7. The following is a brief summary. 

It gives him the authority to suspend certain provisions of the Open Meetings Act in order to hold county meetings. The first example of that provision in action will be the April 6 Hawkins County Board of Education meeting which will be closed to the public, although the meeting will be live-streamed on the Hawkins County Schools website at www.hck12.net

The Emergency Declaration also requires the closure of all non essential businesses, and implements the Safer at Home directive. All county residents are to stay home unless engaged in essential activities as outlined in the emergency declaration. The declaration, which can be read in the online version of this article, includes a long list of essential businesses and services that are exempted. 

The declaration further states that county offices will remain open and with limited staff. All county facility doors will be posted with signs indicating the office phone numbers, extensions, website and online services access as well as other pertinent information for the transaction of the public’s business by phone, fax, internet, and/or other means that office or department may develop.

All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.

Gov. Lee's list of non-essential businesses and services

The list of “essential” businesses and services as identified in the declaration is rather lengthy.

An order issued by Gov. Bill Lee identifies personal service businesses or organization that are to be closed to the public including barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons or spas, spas providing body treatments, body art/tatooing facilities, tanning salons and massage therapy establishments.

Entertainment and recreation gathering venues to be closed include night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters and auditoriums and performing arts venues, race tracks, indoor children's play venues, adult entertainment venues, amusement parks and roller/ice rinks.

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