By MARINA WATERS
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that restaurants are slated to begin reopening this week across the state. But in Jonesborough, reopening comes with mixed feelings.
“I’ll say it’s like everything else in our country — it’s about 50/50,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said. “I think some (business owners) are more comfortable waiting a little bit and then others are ready to go. I’m personally comfortable letting them make those decisions. Of course on 11-E, we see a lot of action there. We haven’t had many closures on 11-E. But downtown that’s a little bit different. Hopefully by July, we’ll have that figured out.”
The decision to reopen also comes with the need to keep to social distancing protocols, Vest said.
“We, and especially the restaurants, will be expected to follow the guidelines as close as possible,” Vest said. “Then all the retail shops will need to take into account the social distancing guidelines and having sanitizers available for folks, all those things that are expected of good retailers.”
As for essential services, Vest said the town is focusing on following guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re just making sure that our town staff is continuing to practice those guidelines,” Vest said. “The worst thing would be if one of our public safety or water department people become ill. That could affect the whole department. We need to make sure we’re practicing all the safety measures we can in those areas.”
He said the town is considering its future events.
While May won’t be filled with Jonesborough’s usual events such as the Music on the Square concert series and Art in the Park, July 1st is the date the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen is hoping to get events back in motion.
“I don’t foresee us doing any events in May unless it’s a very small gathering,” Vest said. “June is somewhat questionable. The date I’m looking at, and probably some other board members, is what happens July 1 when we start getting toward July 4. We’re just going to try to see if we can still have some of those events. If they can be done safely and within guidelines, we need to make it happen.”
The board will continue to monitor the situation, Vest said, with Jonesborough’s quality of life as the primary focus.
“Our board values the quality of life here we have in our town. We think the residents do as well. We are really just making sure we have something positive to look forward to come summer and finishing the end of the year. We’re thinking along that line — what can we do to still allow our quality of life to be as positive as it is?”
The town has created an updated list of businesses that are now open. To view the list go to https://jonesborough.com/. For more information on BMA meetings and other town announcements, go to https://www.jonesboroughtn.org/.