Beshear scales back Kentucky’s mask mandate at smaller outdoor events

Kentuckians no longer need to wear masks outdoors at events with fewer than 1,000 people

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky is changing its mask requirement at outdoor events with 1,000 or fewer attendees to a recommendation, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

The mask mandate remains in effect for outdoor events of greater than 1,000 attendees, such as the Kentucky Derby. It also continues to apply everywhere indoors.

“Based on where we are on vaccinations and what we have seen in recent data, this means if you are at a backyard barbecue, if you are at a community pool if you are at an outdoor wedding — especially if you are vaccinated — you are not required to wear a mask,” Beshear said on Monday.

For those not vaccinated, masks at these smaller outdoor events are recommended but not required.

“We hope this is a relief,” Beshear said.

The move marks the first significant change in Kentucky’s mask mandate since it was issued last July.

“It worked,” Beshear said of the order. “It significantly decreased our cases and significantly decreased our deaths.”

Vaccinations are slowing in Kentucky, just as they are countrywide.

According to Beshear, the state’s mass vaccination sites aren’t administering 40 percent of the vaccine doses they were just a month ago, and not since the first week of March has Kentucky hit its goal of getting out 90 percent of the vaccine doses it receives each week.

New data show Kentucky is successfully staving off a fourth case surge. Last week’s case total was lower than the week before, and the positivity rate has declined for the first time in four weeks.

But from a policy standpoint, the slowed pace of vaccinations figures to keep capacity restrictions at Kentucky businesses in place longer than necessary.

Last month Beshear said he would get rid of those restrictions when the state hits 2.5 million vaccinations. Currently, 1,726,346 Kentuckians have gotten at least one vaccine dose, and it could be mid-June before the state hits that goal.

Monday’s announcement is part of an incremental approach to loosening restrictions the governor conceded last week might be necessary when he increased capacity limits at arenas and stadiums.

He also endorsed creative approaches to push vaccinations, such as a soccer match in Louisville Monday where a vaccination pop-up event is being held in tandem. Those vaccinated at the pop-up will get free admission to the match.

The governor said he spoke to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce about such approaches last week.

“My message was, we need your help,” he said. “We need your leadership. We need you to be creative. We need you to incentivize. We need you to do everything you can, not just to get your employees vaccinated, but to encourage others out there in the community. And we’ve already seen an incredible response.”

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