LOUISVILLE, Ky. — While Midwestern governors announced they were working together on safely reopening their state's economies, Kentucky and Indiana's reopening plans appear to be much different.
"After the 7 governors signed an agreement saying that opening plans would be coordinated, there would be collaboration and communication, we were a little bit surprised by the differing dates," Greater Louisville Inc. President and CEO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom said.
Kentucky's "Healthy at Work" plan is about two weeks behind the "Back on Track Indiana" plan, and some changes that go into effect this week in Indiana will not be seen in Kentucky this month.
Starting this week, retail and commercial businesses in Indiana can operate at 50% capacity, while non-essential travel and in-person religious services can continue. In Kentucky, retail and houses of worship will not reopen until May 20, while office-based businesses, dog grooming, manufacturing, and construction can reopen May 11.
Similarly, Gov. Eric Holcomb said social gatherings of up to 25 people can take place as long as social distancing guidelines are followed this week, while Gov. Andy Beshear said social gatherings of up to 10 people can resume in Kentucky May 25.
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GLI's Davasher-Wisdom said the difference between the two states' plans could cause issues for those who live or work on the other side of the river.
"With differing plans and different dates, businesses on each side of the river are not really being treated equally," Davasher-Wisdom said. "Some businesses in Kentucky still don't have even a projection of when they'll be able to open, whereas in Indiana, restaurants are going to be able to re-open early on."
Davasher-Wisdom said the lack of coordination between the plans is "concerning." She said, as a bi-state region, it's important the economies are in lock-step.
"The longer this goes on, the more concerning this becomes," she said. "We know that businesses that are not able to open that are on the Kentucky side will certainly not be able to have that same economic gain that Indiana businesses will have as a result of being able to open."
Davasher-Wisdom called on the governors to identify coordinated solutions that would make sure Greater Louisville is best positioned for reopening.
"Our families, workers, and businesses need consistency for this regional economy and do not view the Ohio River as the line we are being asked to stay behind," Davasher-Wisdom said. "It's very important that we not be telling people that they have to stay on one side of the river or one side of the bridge because we are a bi-state community. People work and live on different sides of the bridge sometimes and it's important that we be able to cross the bridge without feeling like there's a divider between us."
Meanwhile, Gov. Beshear is still encouraging Kentuckians not to cross the border, despite other states opening up earlier.
"Let's not drive to other states just because they're doing something earlier if we think we've done it better," Beshear said. "Look at Mississippi pausing based on what they saw. Then let's not frustrate that by going to different places."
The governor said he and Gov. Holcomb speak weekly, but during Monday's press briefing, Beshear said he believes Indiana may be opening some things too quickly.
"We all have slightly different experiences and then in the end, we want to coordinate but we all want to do whats best for our people," he said. "I believe that our gradual step is the right way to go."
Gov. Beshear said Kentucky has done a "better job" than nearly all of its surrounding states in flattening the curve. He said he has also been communicating with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Beshear said the two are on the same page in terms of Kentucky's re-opening plans.
"We're not taking a position on which governor was correct in the decision. It's just a matter of needing those dates to be more aligned," GLI's Davashar-Wisdom said. "Businesses in general are ready to re-open and the businesses that we've talked to, feel that they're prepared."
Protesters gathered at the Kentucky Capitol Sunday, demanding the state immediately reopen as they believe restrictions have continued for too long. Still, local leaders believe slowly easing into reopening both the state and the local economy will see better results.
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