‘We’re close to the end:’ Capacity limits increased again at Kentucky businesses, events

The governor says he hopes all capacity limits can be lifted by July.
Governor Andy Beshear visited the Kentucky National Guard Boone Center, March 12, 2021 to...
Governor Andy Beshear visited the Kentucky National Guard Boone Center, March 12, 2021 to present an Acclamation award to members of the guard.(Kentucky National Guard)
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Most businesses and indoor and outdoor events in Kentucky will be able to host 75 percent of their maximum capacities beginning May 28, or Memorial Day Weekend.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the increase at his Thursday media briefing.

The increase affects indoor and outdoor events with total capacities of 1,000 people or fewer. It also affects businesses including retailers, bars and restaurants, fitness centers, hair salons, movie theaters and event venues with total capacities of 1,000 people or fewer.

The move to the 75-percent capacity limit will come nearly two months after Beshear permitted businesses to increase to 60 percent capacity.

Larger events with maximum capacities of 1,000 or more can increase to 60 percent capacity the same day.

Beshear said he timed the Memorial Day change to coincide with the last week of the school year.

Also, beginning Thursday, the state’s mask mandate will no longer apply to small indoor or outdoor gatherings where all attendees are vaccinated.

The governor announced last week the mask mandate will no longer apply at outdoor events with 1,000 or fewer people. The mask mandate remains in effect for outdoor events of greater than 1,000 people.

“If you can just give me a little patience, we’re coming up to a time where we’re going to fully be able to get out of this,” Beshear said, adding he hopes all capacity restrictions can be lifted by July on CDC projections of a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases.

“That is my expectation,” Beshear continued on Thursday. “We don’t have to be patient for that much longer, but we do have to finish our work and protect the people around us.”

Beshear said the next step in terms of further easing capacity restrictions will be when a vaccine is authorized for younger teens.

With the FDA expected to do just that with Pfizer’s vaccine next week, it’s possible Kentucky and other states could begin rolling out vaccine doses to those as young as 12 before the end of May.

THIS WEEK | In Kentucky, slowed pace of vaccinations delays end of health orders

Thursday’s move comes as Kentucky ostensibly continues to aim for 2.5 million vaccinations, when the governor has said he will lift most of the state’s health orders, including capacity restrictions.

Ever since Beshear announced that goal in early April, he has likewise pursued incremental changes to Kentucky’s health orders, such as announcing changes to the mask mandate and loosening restrictions at stadiums and arenas.

The governor on Thursday stressed his commitment to the incremental approach, as he has done in every previous media briefing, seeking to disenthral that approach from the larger framework of the vaccination goal, even as one appears increasingly incidental to the other.

Currently, 1,855,111 Kentuckians have gotten at least one vaccine dose, or around 52 percent of the adult population.

Beshear also reported 655 new cases, six total deaths and a positivity rate of 3.51 percent.

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