Kentucky orders halt to indoor dining, in-person education

Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled new, targeted actions Wednesday to address the exponential growth of COVID-19 in Kentucky, including temporary halts to indoor dining and in-person learning.

The full list of actions contained in the executive order is provided by section below.

The text of the order can be found here. The presentation unveiling the actions can be found here.

“When addressing COVID-19, action is unpopular,” Beshear acknowledged, “but inaction is deadly.”

He continued: “Now it is time for Kentucky’s third counterattack on the coronavirus. Let me be clear about a few things. This is not, and will not be, a shutdown. Our economy is open, and there will be no closings based on essential or nonessential services. But today we are announcing significant, but surgical and targeted steps designed to slow the spread of the virus and protect our people.”

There are no further restrictions on retail, the governor said, but the state will recommit to enforcing the mask mandate.

The new rules, which generally last three weeks, aim to break up the transmission chains through which the virus spreads while also providing a bridge until a vaccine is available in the months ahead.

“The defeat of this virus, we can see it, we can almost taste it,” Beshear said, referring to recent promising news from Pfizer and Moderna about the efficacy of their vaccines.

“It is time we do what it takes to finish this fight.”

The latest report on Kentucky from the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Task Force’s seems to back Beshear’s new actions, citing “aggressive, unrelenting” spread of the virus in Kentucky and around the U.S.

“(...)There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration,” the report reads. "Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.

“We share the strong concern of Kentucky leaders that the current situation is worsening and that all Kentuckians need to do their part to stop the spread. The governor’s active measures are commended.”

Bars and restaurants will be closed for indoor service beginning 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 until midnight Sunday, Dec. 13.

They may continue delivery and to-go service as well as outdoor dining, but the mask mandate and socially distanced seating must be enforced. Packed patios, Beshear said, will result in wholesale changes to the rules for these businesses.

The governor cited a Stanford University study, CDC guidance and the findings of local health departments in saying clusters originating in bars and restaurants are contributing to community spread.

“Any effort to slow the growth of COVID-19 requires this step,” he said.

Relief to bars and restaurants will be available in the form of a $40 million fund drawing on CARES Act money. Businesses impacted can receive $10,000, with a maximum of $20,000 per business entity.

Businesses with at least 50 percent of their sales via drive-through will not be eligible. To focus on locally owned businesses, publicly traded companies are not eligible to apply.

Applications will begin online Nov. 20. More information on the fund is forthcoming.

All public and private schools K-12 will cease in-person instruction beginning Nov. 23.

Middle schools and high schools will remain remote until Jan. 4. Elementary schools will reopen Dec. 7 if that county is not in the ‘red zone’ on Kentucky’s incident rate map and the school follows all state COVID-19 guidance.

A presentation covering new requirements for schools can be found here.

The governor announced new rules on private, indoor social gatherings. Such gatherings are limited to your current household plus one other household but cannot exceed 8 people.

The gathering limit will go into effect beginning 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 until midnight Sunday, Dec. 13.

Attendance at venue spaces will also be limited, targeting weddings and funerals, indoor event spaces and theaters.

No more than 25 people will be allowed per room beginning 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 until midnight Sunday, Dec. 13.

The order does not apply to in-person services at places of worship, for which recommendations will be released Thursday.

Gyms will be reduced to 33 percent occupancy. Masks will be required. Group classes will be prohibited.

Pools, bowling alleys and other similar businesses will also be reduced to 33 percent capacity.

The governor reported the Kentucky High School Athletics Association decided Wednesday to postpone fall sports and practices until Sunday, Dec. 13.

The same postponement is in effect for practices and competitions at indoor recreation facilities, with special mention of cheerleading gyms and martial arts studios. Individual lessons will be allowed but masks are required.

College athletics will not be affected due to frequent testing and the ability to enforce safety protocols, Beshear said.

Office-based businesses will be limited to 33 percent capacity. All employees who are able to work from home must do so. All businesses that can close to the public must do so.

Wednesday Kentucky reported 2,752 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fourth-highest count of the pandemic.

The state’s positivity rate is 9.13 percent.

Some 1,553 Kentuckians are hospitalized with COVID-19, 359 are in ICUs and 176 are on ventilators.

Fifteen deaths were reported Wednesday, including a 15-year-old girl from Ballard County.

The governor acknowledged the girl, who also represents the first student death in the state, had “significant preexisting conditions” but was nonetheless “a beloved member of her community.”

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