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Community leaders encourage masks for benefit of local economy

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Empty rainy Franklin Main Street

Downtown Franklin was empty because of rain and social distance procedures on Wednesday, March 18.

Visit Franklin is partnering with the city of Franklin and multiple organizations in Williamson County to strongly recommend both local citizens and visitors wear a mask when out in public.

In accordance with the mandate released Monday by Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson requiring masks in the county and following the recommendations in Gov. Bill Lee’s executive orders, the Tennessee Pledge, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other medical professionals, Visit Franklin said it holds that wearing a mask is the best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Leaders from these organizations will launch a campaign on social media with the tags #WearAMask, #FranklinTN and #CityOfFranklin, sharing why they wear a mask and asking the public to do the same.

Other Williamson County organizations included in the #WearAMask campaign are Downtown Franklin Association, Franklin Tomorrow, Williamson County Health Department, Williamson, Inc. and Williamson Medical Center.

"I am in total support of Mayor Anderson’s executive order mandating the use of masks in our county," Franklin Mayor Ken Moore said. "As a doctor and mayor of Franklin, I’ve urged everyone to wear a mask when in public spaces. A mask is the best defense to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Let's keep Franklin a safe place for folks to live, work and play.

“By joining with Visit Franklin and our community, we hope to build awareness of the importance of masks and that everyone should wear one to protect our families and our community.”

Visit Franklin President and CEO Ellie Westman Chin said the tourism industry is hurting and that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is important for the local economy.

“Tourism is a vital piece of the local economy, as visitors typically spend $1.31 million per day in our community supporting our local businesses all across the county,” Westman Chin said. “But the tourism industry here is hurting like it is across the country. Medical research shows that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that’s important not just for the health of our local community, but also because travel research indicates that it is a major factor in the decision-making process of travelers now.

“I applaud Mayor Anderson for requiring masks in the county. I wear a mask because visitors are choosing to go where they have a sense of safety from the virus. A key to tourism having a major economic impact here again quickly is providing that level of confidence to visitors that our community is taking this virus seriously as we reopen.”

Weekly national research conducted by the U.S. Travel Association and Longwoods International most recently points to an overall stall in the nation’s confidence in traveling. According to the survey, 69% of travelers planning to travel in the next six months will change their travel plans due to coronavirus, and travelers are more likely to support tourism businesses which demonstrate a clear, thorough cleaning and hygiene plan (43%), as well as those that have controls on social distancing at the business (34%).

Research conducted by Visit Franklin that sampled over 2,400 Williamson County residents also indicated local residents feel more comfortable in public when they and people around them wear a mask. Less than 30% felt comfortable going to grocery stores, retail shops, indoor restaurants or large indoor gatherings without a mask.

To help encourage the use of masks, Visit Franklin and the city of Franklin are ordering 1,500 Franklin branded masks from the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group’s Tennessee Strong Mask Movement that will be distributed to businesses and citizens in need of a mask. They will also be available at the Visitor Center while supplies last.

The Visitor Center, located in downtown Franklin, will also serve as a satellite mask pick up location for a portion of the Williamson County Health Department’s supply of free masks from the state of Tennessee. Free masks will be available to the public at the Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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