FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear has announced new restrictions for the state as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Kentucky.
Starting Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. through Dec. 13, Beshear implemented the following restrictions:
- All restaurants and bars must close indoor dining starting Nov. 20 through Dec. 13. Outdoor service and delivery or to-go services can continue as long as guidelines are being followed.
- Capacity at indoor venues has been rolled back. No more than 25 people can be in venues, event spaces or theaters. This restriction applies to funerals and weddings but does not apply to places of worship.
- Gyms, fitness centers and pools must lower capacity to 33%, requiring masks and pushing social distancing. Group classes are prohibited.
- People must also limit indoor social gatherings to two households of eight people or less.
The governor also spotlighted new restrictions for K-12 schools in the state. All public and private schools must stop in-person instruction starting Nov. 23. Middle and high schools will continue remote instruction until at least Jan. 4. Elementary schools may reopen on Dec. 7 if their county is not in the red zone.
"None of these decisions are easy, and I can tell you none of them are going to be popular," Beshear said. "These restrictions are necessary."
La Tasha Buckner, the governor's chief of staff, also announced a $40 million fund to assist restaurants and bars that will be impacted by restrictions. The fund is available to all businesses currently operating as restaurants and bars that certify they will be in compliance with new orders.
Beshear did say there will be no new restrictions for retailers, saying any places or activities that were not mentioned should continue following current guidance.
Kentucky reported 2,753 new cases Wednesday, the state's 7-day positivity rate hitting 9.13%. Jefferson County reported 530 new cases, 15 additional deaths.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said he believes "we will have a fighting chance" if the state can follow restrictions and hold off the wave through the new year.
Following the governor's announcement on the new restrictions, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the Kentucky Democratic Party praised him for taking measures to keep Kentuckians safe.
Mayor Fischer tweeted he respects Beshear for taking the steps and acknowledged it will be tough for businesses. "This will be a particular challenge to our local bars and restaurants, and I appreciate the governor making funds available to help them. And again, I encourage people to utilize those businesses’ takeout and delivery options – and tip big!" Fischer said.
Colmon Elridge, chair for the Kentucky Democratic Party, said in part, “Every decision the governor has made regarding the COVID-19 crisis has been made after consulting public health experts and taking into consideration any state actions impact on schools, businesses, our ability to come together as families to celebrate or mourn, and our ability to return to places that nourish our spirits such as churches and houses of worship. These decisions, while not easy, have been made because of the clear evidence about the spread of the virus in our communities."
But not all Kentucky leaders were pleased with the governor's orders.
Congressman Andy Barr released a statement, saying in part, "Governor Beshear’s sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions announced today will have a devastating and irreversible impact on Kentucky small businesses and their employees. Accordingly, I call on the Governor to do more than his empty gesture to set up a paltry and woefully inadequate bureaucratic assistance program with federal CARES Act funds that should have been spent months ago."
Republican House Speaker David Osborne also released a statement saying in part, "While we take this virus seriously, we will not be cover for [Governor Beshear's] unilateral decision making. Working with the legislature means more than calling us an hour before making his pre-determined edicts public."