Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear held a press conference on Thursday, July 9, regarding economic and COVID-19 updates. In the conference, Beshear announced that he had signed an executive order to make wearing a mask mandatory in the state of Kentucky, effective 5 p.m. Friday, July 10.
"It's no longer voluntary, it's mandatory, and I'm willing to take whatever criticism comes with that," he said.
The Kentucky-wide order will last for 30-days, at which point the state will evaluate cases and determine future steps. Kentuckians must wear a facial covering or mask in public in retail facilities, grocery stores and "most forward-facing businesses," as well as outside in situations where social distancing isn't achievable. If you're waiting in line to get inside somewhere, you need to wear a mask. If you're in a restaurant or bar waiting to be served, you need to have on a mask until you're ready to eat or drink.
The order will be enforced by the health department, and customers who do not comply with the order will simply not be served.
The National Retail Federation and Kentucky Retail Association both support the order and, in fact, have asked governors to require customers to wear masks to keep infection levels down to make sure businesses can stay open.
In the briefing, Gov. Beshear said there are certainly some exceptions to the order. Those with certain health conditions won't be required to wear a mask and children under 5 are exempt. If you're alone in a single room or with just your household in your house, you don't have to wear a mask. If you're exercising and you're 6 feet away from people, you don't have to have a mask on.
"The number one thing that a mask can do is it can protect the health and the life of yourself and those around you. It can make sure we don’t lose more people than we should, it can keep our cases down. But the other that thing it can do is help us to continue to reopen our economy," Beshear said.
According to the briefing, the state of Kentucky has had 18,245 total COVID-19 cases, and currently has 457 patients in the hospital due to the virus, with 105 of those being in the ICU.
The order follows suit of many recent other state decisions, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's order, which went into effect on Wednesday evening and enforces the use of masks in "red alert" counties.
See the full media briefing here. Gov. Beshear's executive order will be available soon and we'll link to it when it is.