Courthouse open to public, restrictions apply



The Blount County Commission met in a called meeting last Thursday and voted to reopen the Blount County Courthouse and other county buildings to the general public on a restricted basis beginning Monday, May 4. The opening is subject to a number of protocols, generally in accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The provisions described below will apply until further instructions are received from the state health department.

The main motion opening the courthouse specifies there may be no more than 10 members of the public at a time conducting business in the courthouse. (The court system, not currently in full operation, is excluded from that number, for the time being.)

To monitor and control the number of people in the building, a system of color-coded pass cards will be used for different office destinations. When all cards have been issued, the next individual in the waiting line must wait for an appropriate card to be returned before entering office areas to conduct his/her business.

Four additional people will be allowed in the records room, by appointment only, and they will be required to wear masks and gloves while there. Other county buildings

The Family Services Center will follow a similar protocol, considering each wing as separate with respect to the number of people allowed. No more than four people will be allowed in the main lobby, and each agency leasing space will be assisted in maintaining an appropriate number of visitors for their space.

The Blount County Animal Shelter will resume adoptions and surrenders, continuing to operate on an appointment only basis, with a limited number of visitors due to the small space available.

Palisades Park will remain closed for storm cleanup for about another week, until May 15 at the latest. Trails and rock climbing will be reopened as soon as possible, but the buildings, fire tower, and playgrounds will remain closed until the restriction on groups of more than 10 people is lifted by state order.

Blount County Memorial Museum will remain closed to the public the week of May 4 due to the small space and difficulty in social distancing, but the staff will be available by phone.The museum will reopen when deemed appropriate, with restrictions to 10 people and maintaining six feet social distance in place. Older and high-risk people will be encouraged to stay home for a time after reopening.

Blount County Public Transportation remains closed until further notice. It will reopen as soon as it is deemed safe, with riders limited to the number allowable by social distancing requirements. Riders will be encouraged to wear masks.

The Hayden Courthouse Annex remains closed for renovations.