Non-life-sustaining businesses with in-person traffic are being added to the growing list of closures under Gov. Andy Beshear’s latest mandate.

In the ongoing effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, Beshear made the announcement Tuesday during his regular 5 p.m. Eastern briefing.

The order, which will come out Wednesday, March 25, goes into effect 8 p.m. Thursday.

“With the rise in cases and knowing that these next … two weeks are going to be some of the most important, we are going to take a next step,” Beshear said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky had 163 confirmed coronavirus cases.

That marked an increase of 39 cases in one day, making Tuesday’s total the state’s highest single-day count to date. Those numbers prompted Gov. Andy Beshear to further tighten in-person traffic in businesses.

Beshear said grocery stores, banks, gas stations, pharmacies, ag businesses and media are among the businesses that will remain open to foot traffic. Also, manufacturers that are key to national interests or that make life-sustaining goods will be exempt.

However, even those businesses will have to obey social distancing guidelines.

Restaurants can remain open as long as they continue delivery, take-out and curbside service only. Those that offer take-out meals must limit the number of customers in their stores.

In other announcements, Beshear said the state had its first confirmed positive case from a person who attended “a coronavirus party.”

“Anyone who goes to something like this may think they are indestructible,” he said. “But it’s someone else’s loved one they are going to hurt.”

The person was in his or her 20s. Beshear did not tell the county of residence.

On Tuesday, the governor signed Senate Bill 177, which went into effect immediately. It provides relief to school districts due to the COVID-19 emergency.

It waives caps on nontraditional instruction days and in-person student attendance requirements.

Also, Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Brown will cancel this year’s K-Prep tests, a state-required assessment.

Beshear announced the hotline — 833-KYSAFER or 833-597-2337 — that went live Monday already had received about 2,000 calls. The new hotline was put into place so Kentuckians could report unsafe conditions relating to COVID-19 in workplaces and businesses.

In other business, the state’s bourbon and food service industries are making sanitizers for hospitals and first responders, Beshear said.

And he announced state workers would help out at food banks that are short on volunteers. “We, as state employees, want to help,” Beshear said.

During the press conference, the governor told small business owners and independent contractors he still did not have an answer about whether they can draw unemployment insurance.

“We know you’re hurting,” Beshear said. “We know you don’t qualify for unemployment. That’s an error in the system.”

He called the system unfair and promised to continue fighting for that group of workers to receive benefits.

Green River District Health Department officials reported a total of 14 COVID-19 cases in Daviess County as of Tuesday morning, up three from Monday.

Muhlenberg and Henderson counties each have two cases, and GRDHD officials announced Webster County’s first case of coronavirus on Tuesday.

“This will not last forever,” Beshear said near the end of his Tuesday press conference. “There will be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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