Restaurants, Bars to Close to In-Person Dining; Gov. Urges Child Care Center to Prepare to Close
Governor Andy Beshear said Monday morning that he will order the closure of restaurants and bars in Kentucky, limiting their service to carry-out and delivery only.
The decision comes in response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 which has become a global pandemic. Beshear spoke on Monday of "patriotic duty" and "Team Kentucky", and also announced the state's first death directly related to coronavirus, a 66-year old man in Bourbon County.
On Sunday, Beshear said that he was disappointed to see crowds in state bars and restaurants over the weekend and that if behavior did not change, he would seek to make such a closure order, as his counterpart in Ohio, Governor Mike Dewine, did moments earlier that day.
Beshear said that he expects to have his order in place by 5 p.m., though that was not finalized as of the governor's press conference on Monday morning.
The governor also said that child care centers should be expected to close at some point this week. All public school districts in Kentucky have agreed to close for at least two weeks in response to the virus.
Though the in-person dining will be barred, the governor encouraged Kentuckians to order food as a way to support small businesses.
"We need folks out there to be ordering takeout and delivery," he said. "My family is doing it for at least three days a week. There are important businesses. I know it's a little strange to think about patriotic duty in ordering takeout, but it is important."
Beshear also noted the impact that the closure would have on these businesses. He said that he is waiving the waiting period for unemployment benefits and will waive work-search requirements for those benefits for all those who lose work due to the coronavirus.
"We want you to be able to qualify for unemployment and we don't want to create impediments that keep you from being able to (get them)," Beshear said.
New closures also include the Kentucky State Capitol to all non-essential personnel.
"I'm a person who ran on these doors being open to everyone all the time. We're dealing with something we never anticipated," Beshear said. "This is a step where we are modeling what we are asking other people to be modeling."
The governor also announced that any Kentucky driver whose license is set to expire soon, will have that license extended for ninety days while the state continues to encourage people to stay away from public buildings.
There are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern Kentucky. There are twenty confirmed statewide, though Beshear believes that there could be more that are unconfirmed due to a lack of widespread testing or because 80 percent of people, he said, probably would not exhibit any symptoms, or, at worse, only mild symptoms.
"We believe there are more cases out there than are being reported," Beshear said. "Your patriotic duty is making sure you're protecting yourself and others throughout this."
Beshear said that the state is still waiting on widespread testing opportunities.
"We hope in the near future there will be widespread testing. We don't have a timeline for that. Every time we get a timeline, it seems to be extending," Beshear said. Right now, the state is limiting its testing resources for those who are sickest or most vulnerable, Beshear said.
"We've all got to understand in these times, even in our anxiety, that being a good neighbor is critical in how we use our resources," the governor said. "We will be ready the moment that capability is in Kentucky to do it."
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher