Rutherford County, TN—Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron announced Monday that Rutherford County will not impose a mask mandate,--instead, businesses, citizens, and visitors are strongly encouraged to be #RutherfordResponsible.
Being “Rutherford Responsible” means wearing a mask in public when social distancing is impractical, along with other protective measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 54 late Friday evening, granting county mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue local mask requirements, Ketron says he is not ready to mandate for the entire county.
“I believe in our citizens. I am confident that we can do this without forcing their hand,” said Ketron.
As part of the #RutherfordResponsible initiative, Mayor Ketron is partnering with local organizations such as the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Murfreesboro to gain support from local businesses.
“We are asking the businesses in our communities to adopt this initiative by posting ‘RutherfordResponsible’ signage in their windows or other prominent places in their establishments. This will identify that their business requires masks for employees and patrons.” said Ketron. “Much like the orders in other counties, we realize that there will be exceptions such as eating and drinking and outdoor activities that allow for proper social distancing.”
Rutherford County Government will also be participating. Mayor Ketron said he and staff members are in the process of developing a policy requiring masks for County employees that interact with the public on a regular basis. Under the policy, the general public will also be required to wear masks in County office buildings. More information will be released on the policy when available.
Mayor Ketron said the decision of whether to mandate or not was a tough one, but he has the full support of the Rutherford County Mayors’ Caucus.
“We know our citizens want to get back to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, but we cannot accomplish that without their assistance with taking personal responsibility for their health,” said City of La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole.
Town of Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed said, “We have faith that if enough of our businesses join together in this effort, our citizens will follow suit.” Reed also reminds citizens that if they ever feel uncomfortable at an establishment, the customer has the right to not do business with them.
City of Eagleville Mayor Chad Leeman said, “Likewise, businesses have the ability to refuse service to someone who does not adhere to mask requirements for their property.”
Aside from the overall health impact, our local economy is another consideration. City of Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said, “We want to do our best not to have another shutdown. That is why it is so important that citizens and businesses take these protective measures so seriously. Many small businesses have indicated that they will not survive another shutdown.”
“We have heard from many of our citizens who are in favor of a mandate, and while we absolutely respect that, we want to give our communities another chance to do the right thing on their own,” said Ketron. “So please do your part and be #RutherfordResponsible.”