Breaking News: Gov. Andy Beshear announces closure of all bars, reduces restaurant capacity to 25 percent
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday afternoon that he would be closing all bars in Kentucky bars for two weeks and that he is reducing the capacity of restaurants for in-person dining to 25 percent in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.
“We are in an escalation of cases where our positivity rate continues to increase,” Beshear noted. “Statewide action is necessary.”
Beshear noted that both federal and state officials agree on four steps necessary in states that have COVID-19 cases escalating.
Beshear said that the state has already started two steps, which include a requirement that everyone wear a mask. The second step is limiting social and non-commercial gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
“We really have to control house parties. It is an area where we are seeing spread,” he said.
The third step is to require bars to close for two weeks starting July 28. When bars are allowed to re-open, there will be a seat requirement.
Beshear added that there are a lot of responsible bar owners, who are having to pay for the consequences of others.
The fourth step is to limit restaurants to 25 percent in-person seating. Outdoor accommodations remain limited only by the ability to provide proper social distancing.
“Now it’s time to do the things we need to do to control this virus,” he said.
Beshear is also recommending that all schools wait until at least the third week of August before starting in-person classes.
Beshear and the Kentucky Department for Public Health will monitor case numbers over the next two weeks with the goal of reopening bars and restoring restaurant capacity after that time.
“Let me say, there are a lot of really responsible bar owners out there, and I hate requiring this for them. They are paying for the actions of others, and it’s not fair, but this virus isn’t fair either,” Beshear said. “On restaurants, again, they can do unlimited outdoor seating as long as they can sufficiently spread guests out under social distancing guidelines, and we are going to work with our cities and localities to do what we need to do administratively to allow that outside seating to expand. This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants. But the White House modeling shows that this is absolutely necessary to control the spread at this time when we either become the next Florida, or we get it under control and save the lives of our people and protect our economy.”
Beshear noted that all of Monday’s actions were conceived through and backed by guidance from the White House. He said we are currently at a point seen in Florida and Arizona before both of those states saw their cases grow to a point that has threatened their health care infrastructure, which puts even more lives in danger.
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, highlighted the fact that our fate is in all of our hands when it comes to fighting the coronavirus.
“This is not outside of our control. Our actions can have a positive impact. One point I want to emphasize is that it’s not politics if you have President Trump and Governor Beshear making the same recommendations. It’s not politics. This is science. If we work together through this, we can succeed,” Dr. Stack said. “Back when we were Healthy at Home, we crushed the curve. … But when we started lifting restrictions, our mobility went right back to normal. So now, if you want to keep Kentucky open and keep your loved ones safe, wear a mask.”
Beshear noted that he was joined Sunday in Frankfort by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Birx advised that the growth in Kentucky’s COVID-19 cases and, especially, the commonwealth’s rising test positivity rate is cause not just for concern, but for immediate action. Dr. Birx specifically recommended that the Kentucky’s bars close and indoor dining capacity be limited.
“We are in an escalation of cases, where our positivity rate also continues to increase. This virus is now escalating and spreading so much statewide that statewide action is necessary. That’s the opinion of the Trump administration, and that’s the position of this state government. It’s every expert on the federal level and at our state level,” said Gov. Beshear.