FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – COVID capacity limits for everything from bars and restaurants to tanning salons will be eased slightly in Kentucky starting Friday, but only if the businesses can continue with social distancing.
And in two weeks, child care centers will be able to return to their capacities, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.
The state’s continued improvement in COVID cases, including seven straight weeks of reduced case numbers and the lowest one-day total — 509 — since Sept. 28. The state’s positivity rate also fell to 4.84 percent
Beshear has been saying for two weeks that if the numbers continue to show steady improvement, health experts were considering easing some of the restrictions, most notably capacities. By allowing 10 percent more capacity — from 50 percent to 60 percent — Beshear said he hopes to gradually further open the state’s economy without running the risk of increased COVID cases, especially the dangerous variants that are starting to show up.
“Today, we have more good news than at any time in the pandemic. We’ve never seen what we are seeing now in terms of a downward trend. Previously, we had experienced only three consecutive weeks of declining cases,” said Beshear. “COVID hospitalizations, ICU admittance and those needing a ventilator have either decreased or stabilized.
“This capacity increase is an initial step where we will watch and see to ensure we don’t see a corresponding increase in cases.”
The following businesses can now increase capacity to 60%:
- Indoor auctions
- Barbershops/cosmetology/hair salons
- Bars and restaurants
- Bowling alleys
- Indoor educational and cultural activities
- Fitness centers
- Funeral and memorial services
- Government offices/agencies
- Massage therapy
- Movie theaters
- Nail salons
- Office-based businesses
- Places of worship (recommendation)
- Tanning salons
- Tattoo parlors
- Vehicle and vessel dealerships
- Venues and event spaces
“We will monitor this and see how it goes,” Beshear said, rattling off a long list of business categories that will be allowed to let in more customers as long as they can maintain the six-foot social distancing.
Masks also still must be worn.
The governor said a further easing of restrictions could come if the case numbers continue down and the vaccine roll out continues to expand unimpeded.
The state already has vaccinated almost 700,000 residents with at least first doses and expects to double that number in March alone, especially with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting to come to the state.
Kentucky expects to get 36,500 of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week with most of those being distributed to health departments and 130 independent pharmacies across the state to meet the need in individual communities.
As importantly, the state will open day care centers up to full capacity on March 15. That will gibe time for day care workers to continue to get vaccinated and to make any building adjustments needed to handle larger groups.
“We know how desperately needed this is for many families,” Beshear said.