Gov. Beshear announces new COVID-19 restrictions

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Michael Dylan Payne

Gov. Andy Beshear announced in his daily COVID-19 update Wednesday a new series of restrictions that will go into effect for the entire state starting this Friday that will last until between Dec. 13.

“This is not, and there will not be a shutdown,” Beshear said. “Our economy is open and there will be no categorizing businesses. It’s not picking or choosing, instead we’re announcing precise surgical steps to stop the spread of the virus.”

Restaurants and bars will be closed to inside dining services starting Friday. Outdoor seating, carry-out ordering and delivery services may continue, but the governor warned crowded patios will result in further orders.

Private gatherings must be limited to household family members, plus one additional household, and not to exceed eight people. The governor noted that an additional household should not include extended family.

Gatherings in venue spaces will be limited to an attendance of 25 people per room. The governor said examples of these types of events are funerals and weddings.

When possible, businesses should transition staff back to work-from-home.

Gyms are restricted to 33% capacity and patrons must wear a mask at all times within the facility.

Additionally, all group activities are to be canceled, including cheerleading gyms and karate studios. One-on-one lessons will be allowed with a mask being required. This mandate will apply to businesses like bowling alleys, gyms and other similar businesses according to the governor.

Schools are to go to virtual learning statewide starting Monday, Nov. 23. Elementary schools will be allowed to return to in-person classes on December 7, as long as they are not in red zone counties. Middle and high schools will be allowed to return in-person classes on Jan. 4, 2021. The governor said this order effectively keeps kids home until after the end of this semester with a hope to return in the spring of 2021.

“We’re asking everyone to do this at the same time, so we get the maximum impact,” Beshear said. “If we’re going to take a swing at this virus, we want to make sure we swing hard enough to impact its direction and exponential growth.”

There were 2,753 new COVID-19 cases announced Wednesday in the Commonwealth, with Kentucky’s top five highest case reporting days, happening within the last week.

“The Mayo Clinic said they’ve had 900 employees test positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks,” Beshear said. “It’s not that we’re going to run out of beds, we’re going to run out of staff.”

Hospitalizations are up 32 people today, with 359 Kentuckians in the ICU and another 176 on ventilators, Beshear said.

“COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the United States right now,” Beshear said. “But the end—the defeat of this virus—we can see it. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Beshear was optimistic about the announcement of two vaccines with 95% success rates and hopes the end of the pandemic is within the next couple of months.

Michael Dylan Payne can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mdpayne_.