Saying ‘this is our moment,’ Beshear orders masks in public

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – In an effort he admits is controversial but necessary to stop the coronavirus from potentially spiraling out of control in the state as its has in others, Gov. Andy Beshear Thursday signed an order requiring masks be worn in public.

The order has few exceptions.

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It takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday and will last for 30 days to “see how things go.”

Beshear had warned last week that steps could be needed when the state’s daily case numbers started to tick upwards.

And Friday, he is meeting with a group of bar owners to discuss ideas that would go beyond masks. As WTVQ ABC-36 News first reported last week, that likely will require bar patrons be seated to avoid “congregate gathering,” the governor said.

“It’ll look more like a restaurant, with masks still being required,” he said during Thursday’s briefing.

“We are still in a battle and it is not going away,” Beshear said leading up to formally announcing the order, which has the support of the Kentucky Retail Federation and the National Retail Federation.

“Twenty-two states now require wearing a mask in some way. The studies now show wearing a mask can reduce the chance of catching the virus by 65 percent,” he continued.

Local health departments will enforce the order and businesses could face shutdown if they don’t have their employees wearing masks and don’t make “reasonable” efforts to make sure customers comply.

Similar orders have led to disputes, a handful violent, in some states and lawsuits. The order provides exceptions for people with health issues, children under 5 and a few others.

“If you have a health issue that prevents you from wearing a mask then you sure need everyone else wearing one,” he stated, noting if “you are working out in a gym and are more than six feet from other people, then you don;t have to wear one.”

“We can’t let 333 turn into 3,000,” he said referring to the number of new cases the state reported Thursday.

“We are at that moment where we don’t have to shut everything down. If we really do this, we can stay here, we can keep our businesses operating at 50 percent capacity.It all depends on our ability to abide by the rules…I had hoped we wouldn’t have to do this…but it is time to get serious.

“If we can’t get people to wear masks, it is going to, put the opening of schools at risk. We will have to rollback reopening or close,” he warned, citing numerous examples from other states. “This is truly on us, everyone’s actions have consequences. This is our moment. We were way up on the score but we let it catch up with us. We can stop and lose or get back to work.”