FRANKFORT, Ky. — Most coronavirus restrictions will end next month in Kentucky.
What You Need To Know
- The mask mandate and capacity restrictions will end June 11 in Kentucky, Gov. Beshear said Friday
- Kentucky already ended the mask mandate for vaccinated people
- The curfew on bars and restaurants will end May 28
- Republican officials are pushing Gov. Andy Beshear to reopen the state sooner
So far, the state has vaccinated 1.9 million people, one of the reasons why Governor Andy Beshear is removing those restrictions.
“With the vaccines, we all now have both the choice and the basic tool to protect ourselves and to greatly reduce any chance we can spread the virus to another person,” Beshear said.
Beshear initially set a goal of 2.5 million vaccinations before removing restrictions, but he says data on how the vaccines have worked so far sped up his timeline.
The CDC issued new guidance Thursday, telling vaccinated people they no longer need masks indoors or outdoors, and Beshear immediately dropped the mask mandate for that group. On June 11, the mask mandate will be eliminated for everybody, and businesses will be allowed to reopen to 100% capacity.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack got emotional talking about it during a press conference Friday.
“Walking into the Capitol this morning is the first time I think all of us have seen each other’s faces without masks in a long time,” Stack said. “So I think the emotion sort of captures how meaningful this is and it does sort of feel like there’s a new day dawning out there.”
Some feel like the end isn’t coming quickly enough, though.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has been pushing to fully reopen while visiting restaurants and other businesses around the state the last couple months.
“When large stores like WalMart and Kroger can be open, so can small businesses on Main Street,” Quarles said.
He isn’t the only Republican calling for no more restrictions: Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) said it’s long overdue.
“My feeling is people have enough information now, 15 months into this pandemic, to make their own good health decisions,” Thayer said.
Beshear wants to give people time to get vaccinated, especially kids ages 12-15, a group that wasn’t eligible until this week.
“This is a major step, and so people out there who aren’t vaccinated now, now have the choice and the time to get fully vaccinated before we hit that 100% capacity,” Beshear said.
Thayer isn’t buying it.
“I think he has enjoyed being in control of people’s lives and quite frankly, I think most people are over it,” he said.
House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins (D-Shively) said its a good move, even though she worries about reopening too quickly, especially with young kids who are unable to get the vaccine.
“And I understand the sacrifices that folks made, but to do things too quickly and go backwards would have diminished the sacrifice I think that many people made,” Jenkins said.
Beshear said he’s made every decision with people in mind— not politics.
“In a war where the stakes are life and death, we’ve recognized that the life of your loved one is the most important thing,” Beshear said. “And we’ve tried to make decisions accordingly.”
Masks are still required in several settings after June 11, including hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities and planes. Beshear previously announced the curfew on bars and restaurants will be lifted May 28.