LOUISVILLE, Ky (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that the state’s restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses will be able to return to their previous capacity limits starting Monday, Dec. 14.
“When we talk about COVID being a fast moving train, it doesn’t just immediately turn; you have to slow it down, stop it and turn it around. We still believe that’s what we’re seeing,” Beshear said.
The Democratic governor pointed toward the state’s test positivity rate as a “leading not a lagging” indicator that community spread is slowing, and urged businesses to reopen with a commitment to enforce social distancing guidelines.
“We’ve got to enforce that mask mandate, that’s the way we don’t have to take steps like this again,” he added.
Bars and restaurants will be able to open indoor dining at 50% capacity, and continue curbside pickup, delivery, and outdoor dining. They must stop serving food at 11 p.m. and close by midnight. Gyms, fitness centers, pools and other indoor recreation facilities will also be able to resume operations at 50% capacity.
Kentucky reported 2,454 new coronavirus cases Sunday, along with 15 new deaths. Kentucky's positivity rate has dropped 1.23% compared to last Sunday.
Beshear’s school-related orders will remain in place. While middle and high schools are required to continue with remote learning until January, elementary schools were allowed to reopen on Dec. 7 if the county they were located in was not in a “red zone,” the highest category for COVID-19 incidence rates. All but one of Kentucky’s 120 counties are reported to be in the red zone.
The state’s test positivity rate has lowered to 8.52%, continuing a weeklong downward trend. The positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.