Several Funeral Directors Disagree With Mask Mandate Exemptions

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF)- You are legally free to not wear a mask at funerals and funeral homes in Tennessee.

Although some funeral directors have their own mask requirements, they say it’s difficult to play the role of enforcer.

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“I don’t feel like as a funeral director I need to be the police of this thing”, Lane Funeral Home Director David Keller is one of several funeral directors who met at the Taylor Funeral Home on Wilcox Boulevard.

Everyone including John Taylor agreed there should be no exemptions across board.

Taylor says it’s important to keep both the visitor and the funeral home staff safe, “People think they are exempt and can just come in but if it’s straight across the board then they will have to have a mask on.”

Despite enforcing their own mandate, Curtis Ottinger of Heritage funeral Home says it’s unreasonable to constantly monitor visitors, “During the visitation and during the service in the chapel, we do notice that people do take their mask off and you cannot be the one in the middle that continuously goes up to people and say ‘please put your mask back on.'”

Regional Director of the Hamilton County Health Department Becky Barnes released a statement to News 12 on behalf of the health department saying: “Funeral homes were exempted because of the religious nature of most funerals. Even though funerals were exempted from the mandate, we still encourage anyone attending such event to wear a mask.”

“Most funeral homes have live streaming. If you don’t feel safe, don’t get out. If you don’t want to wear a mask don’t get out” said Keller.

Despite the mask mandate ending on September 8th, funeral directors plan to enforce the mask mandate past the deadline.

“Absolutely, yes we will” said Ottinger.

“We just want to make sure everyone is safe. We practice safety because the virus is real” said Taylor.