Gov. Andy Beshear this week issued new restrictions in an effort to help stop the rampant spread of COVID-19 and save Kentuckians lives while keeping the economy open.

With more than 250,000 American lives, including those of more than 1,700 Kentuckians, lost to the virus, Beshear is joining state executives from across the country in implementing new restrictions.

“Since March 6, the day Kentucky had its first confirmed case, we have been under attack and at war with the coronavirus. It has upended our routines, damaged our economy, threatened our children’s education and taken far too many lives,” Beshear said. “Now, it is time for Kentucky’s third counterattack on the coronavirus. Let me be clear about a few things. This is not, and will not be, a shutdown. Our economy is open, and there will be no closings based on essential or nonessential services. But today we are announcing significant, but surgical and targeted steps designed to slow the spread of the virus and protect our people.”

While Kentuckians sacrificed a lot to keep Kentucky cases comparatively low early on, the state has experienced a 400% increase in positive cases over the past nine weeks, and the third spike shows that Kentuckians need to buckle down and comply with existing orders, like wearing a facial covering, while adopting new requirements, officials said.

Beshear said requirements for restaurants; bars; social gatherings; indoor fitness and recreation centers; venues and theaters; and professional services were effective as of 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and will be in effect through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Restaurants, Bars

No indoor food or beverage consumption; carryout and delivery encouraged; socially distance outdoor seating

To help offset the financial impact on restaurants and bars, Beshear also announced he is dedicating $40 million in CARES Act funding to provide qualifying entities $10,000 in relief for various expenses, with a maximum award of $20,000 per business entity. Businesses with at least 50% of their sales via drive-through will not be eligible. To focus on locally owned businesses, publicly traded companies are not eligible to apply. Applications are scheduled to open Nov. 30 and close Dec. 18. Businesses will be required to remain in compliance with all public health orders. Applications will be processed in the order they are received, and funds will be awarded until they are exhausted. Additional details on where to apply will be forthcoming.

Earlier this month, Beshear also waived alcoholic beverage renewal fees for Kentucky restaurants, bars and temporary venues for 12 months to help during the pandemic.

Private social gatheringsUp to eight people from a maximum of two households.

Gyms, fitness centers, pools, other indoor recreation facilities33% capacity limit; group classes, team practices and competitions prohibited; masks must be worn while exercising.

Venues, event spaces and theatersEach room will be limited to 25 people. This applies to indoor weddings and funerals, but excludes in-person worship services.

Professional services

Office-based businesses limited to 33% of employees; all employees who are able to work from home must do so; all businesses that can close to the public must do so.

In addition, new requirements for schools will begin Monday, Nov. 23.

Schools

All public and private schools (K -12) to cease in-person instruction:

  • Middle and high schools will remain in remote or virtual instruction until at least Jan. 4, 2021.
  • Elementary schools may reopen for in-person instruction Dec. 7 if their county is not in the red zone and the school follows all Healthy at School guidance.

“As for our schools, I want to thank everyone who is working to continue to educate our children and to make sure they have access to healthy meals,” Beshear said. “Our children are resilient, but they are sacrificing so much and we need them to sacrifice even more right now so we can protect them from this surge in cases.”

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