TOM LATEK | Kentucky Today
FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear gave a tentative timetable on when restaurants, gyms, campgrounds and childcare centers may reopen, due to the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of positive cases rose above 6,000.
To start Healthy at Work phase 2, restaurants will be able to reopen to limited inside capacity on May 22. “That’s 33 percent, plus they can do unlimited outdoor seating, if they can get the spacing that is needed,” Beshear said. “I know this is not the capacity that our restaurants probably want, but the studies we look at show we have to be really careful about this step.”
While the governor was pointing toward June for reopening restaurants earlier this week, moving it to May 22 will allow them to be open for Memorial Day weekend.
“We know we have a lot of small business owners here,” Beshear said. “We want to be mindful of that, to try to help them re-start. We hope to gradually be able to raise the capacity, but this is the best compromise between public health and making sure we can restart this part of the economy.”
The next reopening comes June 1, which will include movie theatres and fitness centers. “This gives us time to work on the right type of guidelines to get them in the right type of shape,” he said.
On June 11, campgrounds, both public and private, will be able to reopen. “This is one of the areas that we originally didn’t want to close at all,” the governor said, “but people weren’t social distancing, so we had to do this for the health and safety of people.”
June 15 is his goal to have a safe plan for childcare. “I will tell you it will be at significantly reduced capacity and will be closely monitored to make sure that it’s safe. We’re working through that now.” That is also the day he hopes to restart youth sports programs, which will be low touch and outdoors.
Beshear also warned that a surge in coronavirus cases could affect the schedule and put things on pause.
The governor announced there were 208 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 6,129. While most of the cases and especially the deaths due to the virus were in older Kentuckians, especially those with heart, kidney, lung or other health issues, Thursday’s cases included several teenagers and even a 3-year-old.
There were also 11 more deaths, eight of which occurred at long-term care facilities, making it 294 since the pandemic began. Of the deaths, five occurred in Edmonson County, two in Butler County, and one each in Grayson, Hardin, Jefferson, and Warren counties.
“These are 11 Kentuckians we have lost, 11 families that are grieving,” Beshear said. “They are going to have to go through this at a time when they can’t grieve a normal way.”
He continues to encourage Kentuckians to light their homes green in honor of those who have died.
Beshear also announced the coronavirus testing program will be greatly expanded as First Care Clinics can now provide COVID-19 tests at 13 locations across the state, seven days a week, at no cost to employees or their employers.
Find out more about testing locations and other information on Kentucky’s response to the coronavirus at kycovid19.ky.gov or calling (800) 722-5725.