Beshear Further Limits Gatherings, Closes Inside of Kentucky Bars and Restaurants to Slow COVID Spread

Beshear's new restrictions — including closing the inside of bars and restaurants — will go into effect Nov. 20

click to enlarge Gov. Andy Beshear - Photo: YouTube screengrab
Photo: YouTube screengrab
Gov. Andy Beshear

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has issued a handful of "significant and surgical steps" designed to combat the surging number of COVID cases in the state. As of 4 p.m. today, Kentucky reported 2,753 new cases and 15 new deaths in 24 hours.

During a briefing this afternoon, Beshear said these six new steps have been designed to have the maximum impact with as little disruption as possible.

"We are called to action once again," he said. "Surrender, ignoring this virus, pretending it isn't real is not an option, because we can and we should take the actions necessary to save thousands of lives."

The six new restrictions go into effect 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 and run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 (unless otherwise noted) and include:

  • Further limiting private indoor gatherings to a maximum of eight people — those in your household plus one other household. "We see far too much of the virus happening at family gatherings and neighborhood events," Beshear said. 
  • Limiting attendance at venue spaces — this includes weddings and funerals — to no more than 25 people per room. This does not apply to in-person services at places of worship, which will receive their own instructions. 
  • Closing bars and restaurants to indoor service — carry-out, delivery and to-go can continue but the venues must adhere to the mask and seating rules. Beshear said the CDC, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and local health departments all agree that spread — "if not the greatest spread," he said — is coming from bars and restaurants.
  • Reducing capacity at gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys and pools. These must operate at 33% occupancy and group classes are prohibited. Masks are now required as is social distancing. This restriction also closes indoor practices for sports teams — like cheerleading gyms and martial arts studios — but private lessons are allowed.
  • All professional businesses that are able must have employees work remotely. If businesses remain open to the public, they can only have 33% of employees in their facilities at one time.
  • All in-person education — at public and private schools — must cease Nov. 23. Middle and High Schools can return to in-person instruction Jan. 4. Elementary schools can return as early as Dec. 7, as long as their school is not in a red zone county.  

The restrictions will be enforced by the counties, Beshear said.

In terms of restaurants, he also announced a new program to help them weather the storm.

"So many of our restaurants and bars are small businesses that have people's futures invested in them so in an attempt to provide some — albeit not enough — relief, we are launching a $40 million fund to assist restaurants and bars impacted by this step," Beshear said.

Those who qualify will receive $10,000 from the Kentucky food and beverage relief fund. Applications open online Nov. 30. Additional info is forthcoming, but this is targeted at "mom-and-pop" business owners, not chains or drive-thrus.

"None of these decisions are easy — I can tell you, none of them are going to be popular," Beshear said. "But now's the time we make the decision in whether we are going to let our fellow Kentuckians become sick, and more of them die, or we're going to take a stand against the third wave of this virus."

For all activities not listed, follow current guidance on the Healthy at Work website

"We can see the end. I can't wait for it to be here. I can't wait to undo every order that I've had to do. I really look forward to that day. And it's months, just months," he said. "So from now until then, let's make sure we're doing the right things for those around us."

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