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Statewide mask mandate for Kentucky remains an option if needed, Beshear says

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 12:25 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - A day after announcing the renewed mask mandate inside Kentucky’s state buildings, Gov. Andy Beshear said a statewide policy is still possible but is not being considered right now.

The governor’s press conferences this week have mainly focused on masking.

As of Thursday, masks or face coverings are required in all Kentucky state buildings.

Gov. Beshear said every employee, regardless of vaccination status, in a state building and around others must wear a mask.

This includes anyone inside an executive branch building or office and inside state vehicles where another employee is present.

Beshear said employees who can practice social distancing in their office may take the mask off.

Employees who do not comply with the policy will be removed from government buildings.

Those visiting a state building will also be required to mask up.

The mask mandate for state buildings will end once things improve, according to the governor.

As for a statewide mask mandate, a recent court ruling might prevent the governor from bringing it back.

Back in June, a Boone County judge granted a permanent injunction to end all of Beshear’s COVID-19 mandates and emergency orders.

Attorney Chris Wiest has represented several people and businesses who have sued the governor over the now-lifted restrictions.

Wiest said the June ruling prohibits Gov. Beshear from issuing any new COVID-19 orders.

“It’s not just about masks,” said Wiest. “Some states are now implementing again restrictive capacity for small businesses. [The June permanent injunction] prevents any further orders.”

Gov. Beshear has filed a motion in the Kentucky Supreme Court to stay the injunction.

Wiest said he will ask the Boone County judge to hold Beshear in contempt of court.

FOX19 NOW reached out to the governor’s office concerning this matter and received the following statement:

“The Governor has the authority to enact public health requirements to protect the people of Kentucky and save lives during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The Franklin Circuit Court enjoined the effectiveness of legislation that would have restricted that authority and the case is currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously last year that the Governor’s actions were constitutional and necessary to protect Kentuckians.

“The Governor has long said his focus during the pandemic is not on politics, but on defeating the coronavirus. Gov. Beshear has followed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and public health experts.

“The Governor knows these actions are not popular, but they are needed to save lives.”

Back on Monday, the governor gave an update on students wearing masks in school.

Gov. Beshear gave three recommendations to school districts.

One recommendation from the governor is schools should implement universal masking.

No school district in Northern Kentucky has announced a mask requirement for the upcoming school year.

[List: Mask policies for Tri-State schools]

Beshear said science shows masking works and schools use science when making their decision.

Having students wear masks in the classroom will help mitigate the spread of the delta variant, the governor said.

A few days later, it was announced that employees in state buildings need to mask up once again.

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