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State official advises against large events
Commissioner Mark Ezell.jpg
“If there is an event that’s so big it’s not really feasible to do social distancing, we hope they choose not to do it this year.”

Warren County won’t be prevented from having its fair later this year, but it might not be advisable.

That was the opinion of Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell during a phone interview Tuesday morning. Ezell is a member of Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Team and said the governor should be providing guidance on large-scale gatherings in the coming days.

“We are not going to say something can’t be held,” said Ezell while phoning in to Warren County’s weekly coronavirus press conference. “But we do hope people are responsible when they hold events. If there is an event that’s so big it’s not really feasible to do social distancing, we hope they choose not to do it this year.”

Ezell added, “There may be some events that need to get smaller for one year.”

He encouraged organizers of large-scale events to think of possible ways to reduce crowd sizes or ways to modify behavior at those events. He used a fireworks show as an example and said people could be encouraged to attend the event, but stay in their vehicles the entire time.

He said some events would not be advisable.

“We may have to say something like a petting zoo, where 3,000 people come through and touch the same animal, that may be a bad idea,” said Ezell.

He emphasized Gov. Lee is proud he didn’t issue any mandates during the pandemic and only provided suggestions. He said Tennessee was the second state in America to reopen restaurant dining rooms on April 27. Ezell believes the state has reopened responsibly in a manner to stimulate business while protecting the safety of workers and customers.

Ezell said Tennessee is a desirable destination when families do begin to travel this summer.

“As travel opens up, families want a place that’s safe,” said Ezell. “We feel a lot of the tourism marketplace will return, especially those built around outdoor assets.”