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'This is what you have been waiting for' | Beshear sets vaccination goal with promise to remove restrictions

The governor said when 2.5 million Kentuckians receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he will remove capacity and distancing restrictions.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a challenge Monday morning in the hopes of encouraging all Kentuckians to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

Outside the new mass vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Beshear announced the "Team Kentucky Vaccination Challenge." The goal of the challenge is to reward the state's vaccination efforts by removing COVID-19 restrictions.

RELATED: LIST | Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky, Indiana?

The first goal of the challenge is to give out 2.5 million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky. When the state reaches that goal, Beshear said he will remove capacity restrictions on nearly all events, businesses and venues that serve fewer than 1,000 customers. He also said he would remove physical distancing restrictions and end the curfew for bars and restaurants in the state.

"This is what you have been waiting for - a clear number and a clear goal to hit," Beshear said.

Beshear stressed that the mask mandate will remain in place due to the concern over COVID-19 variants.

Dr. Steven Stack called it Kentucky's "exit strategy from COVID-19."

You can watch the full press conference below:

On Sunday, Gov. Beshear said more than 1.5 million Kentuckians have received their vaccine so far, so the state is about 900,000 people away from reaching the first goal. Gov. Beshear said we can reach 2.5 million people vaccinated in three and a half weeks, but more realistically four to six weeks. 

"It's just all good news," said Zach Barnes, owner of the Great Flood Brewing Co. "Nothing bad about it. We can really just only look forward to the moment we can see our bars fully open," he explained after news that restaurants and bars could essentially return to normal.

"To finally go back to a normal capacity, normal hours, I still can't believe to it be honest with you, it's exciting," said one of the owners of ShopBar, Natasha Sud. 

The governor is encouraging businesses to offer incentives to get the vaccine so that the state can achieve their goal. At ShopBar, Sud and co-owner Gerald Dickerson say they're considering it. 

"We can talk about some sort of discount on a drink if you've got your laminated vaccination," said Dickerson. 

"Yeah, whatever it takes to get people vaccinated to protect yourself and protect others," continued Sud. 

The vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium opened Monday morning at 9 a.m. It will be the largest mass vaccination site in the state. Gov. Beshear said around 4,000 Kentuckians should be able to get vaccinated at that site each day. The goals of the site is to administer 200,000 vaccines in seven weeks. 

A month ago there were more people who wanted the vaccine than doses available. Now – the supply is available, and is ready to be administered.

“Now it’s up to our people to do, I think their duty as citizens, their patriotic duty as Americans as we fight this disease together,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.  “We need you to come get your vaccine.”

Eligibility for the COVID-19 has been expanded to include everyone 16 years old and older.

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