FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced increased capacity limits for many Kentucky businesses, including bars and restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters, offices, retailers and more.
The businesses were previously allowed 50 percent indoor capacities. Capacity limits will increase to 60 percent beginning March 5.
The increase is only allowed if a business can achieve it while while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing, the governor said.
The mask mandate is still in effect for all businesses.
Beshear’s announcement comes as COVID-19 continues to decline in Kentucky, as indicated in falling cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positivity rates.
“We have more good news than at any time during the pandemic,” he said.
>> Beginning Monday: Phase 1C vaccinations get start date in Kentucky
Asked what it would take to increase business capacity limits further, the governor replied:
“What we’ll need to see is continuing trends, that the variants don’t change the trend line we’re seeing. We need to watch increased supply of vaccines, if we reach a point where hesitancy slows us down.”
The governor said he will monitor case numbers as well to see if they begin to rise again as the state “lets a little air out of the balloon” with the current capacity increase.
Beshear also announced Monday childcare facilities will be increased to regular group sizes beginning March 15 if positive trends continue. Childcare workers were moved to Phase 1B last week.
The governor provided an ambitious new vaccination timeline Monday, saying Kentucky will substantially increase its pace of vaccinations over the next month.
Vaccinations began Dec. 15. Since then, 699,398 Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose.
Beshear is hopeful the state can vaccinate that many more Kentuckians over the next month alone, with the pace increasing further going into April.
Kentucky has 3,641,310 vaccine-eligible residents. If the governor is proved correct in the new timeline, 38.4 percent of Kentuckians will have received at least one vaccine dose by April 1.
The timeline is premised on increased production from Pfizer and Moderna as well as the FDA’s authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
All the vaccines “effectively eliminate severe disease and death,” Beshear said, “and that is what we are going for.”
Kentucky will receive 36,500 doses of the JJ vaccine on Tuesday, putting its weekly allotment above 100,000 first doses, a two-fold increase from early January.
The JJ vaccines will go to local health departments and 130 independent pharmacies statewide.
Kentucky is faring as well against the coronavirus as it has since early fall. The state has seen seven consecutive weeks of declining case totals.
Monday the state recorded just 509 newly confirmed cases and 15 new virus-related deaths.
The state’s positivity rate is 4.84 percent. It marks the first time the rate has come in below 5 percent, an important threshold going back to the pandemic’s early days, since October.
Hospitalizations continue to decline as well.
Currently 719 Kentuckians are hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 180 are in ICUs and 82 are on ventilators.
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