City to begin reopening community centers, athletics, special events

While large outdoor gatherings at Founders Park and King Commons remain on hold, Johnson City is making plans to reopen community centers, resume athletic programming and begin taking reservations for pavilions at city parks.

The City of Johnson City has announced plans to reopen all three community centers, resume athletic programming and weekend athletic events, and permit some special events in the coming months.

City staff will begin a multi-phased approach to reopening Memorial Park Community Center, Carver Recreation Center, and Langston Centre starting Monday, April 12. The goal of the phased reopening, based on public health guidance, is to safely allow activities to resume while mitigating the risk of new COVID-19 cases.

The city will continue to follow guidelines and recommendations provided by Gov. Bill Lee and his economic recovery group as well as the Centers for Disease Control and public health officials. Phase 1 of the plan limits the number of participants in each activity, requires pre-registration for all activities, and includes a mandatory screening process, including temperature check and verbal health questionnaire. Pre-registration, which begins Monday, April 5, is required for all activities in the centers. Some amenities at the community centers may not be available.

The Parks and Recreation Athletics Division will open registration for adult softball and youth soccer, T-ball, and softball on March 1 with games scheduled to begin on April 15. Reservations for use of the pavilions in city parks, including the Pavilion at Founders Park, will be accepted beginning March 1 for dates on or after April 1.

Registration for the Amphitheater at Founders Park will open on April 1 for dates on or after June 1. Large gatherings at Founders Park and King Commons remain on hold while the city observes the progression of the pandemic and vaccine rollout. Road races will be able to resume in late-March with the City developing nine new race routes that allow for increased social distancing. Race organizers will be prohibited from hosting any pre- or post-race activities.

Complete reopening plans can be found on the City website at

Grandy lifts Washington County’s mask requirement

After careful consideration, the Mayors of Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties lifted current face covering requirements last Friday.

Businesses are requested to require face coverings be worn in compliance with the Tennessee Pledge, and the lack of an order by any of the County Mayors does not impact any safety measures currently in place in any of the county’s school systems, colleges or universities. Tennessee Supreme Court’s orders will continue to apply to wearing of face coverings in buildings where court is conducted.

“We appreciate everyone supporting the wearing of face coverings for the past several months to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy. “Vaccinations are in full swing, community spread appears to be slowing and your County Mayors agree that the time has come to shift from a requirement to a request.”

While the County Mayors have decided to repeal their mandates, it’s not a complete return to business as usual.

“We do request that businesses continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and Tennessee Pledge recommendations and continue the personal precautions while in public spaces,” Grandy said. “We are not out of the pandemic yet, and we need to continue to be mindful of others and follow the guidelines.”

Decisions made by individuals have an impact on others with whom they come in contact, so as the numbers escalated the face covering requirement proved necessary. Our week-to-week growth rate in the region, and the country, has significantly slowed. We are vaccinating at a steady rate and therefore the County Mayors think the time has come to repeal the mask requirements.

The County Mayors hope to strike a balance between public health objectives and the ability of individuals to make personal decisions for themselves and their families.

To view vaccination information, CDC requirements and local executive orders regarding face coverings, please visit and click on COVID-19.


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