Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Announces End to Mask Mandate, Other Restrictions

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivers the budget address to a joint session of the state legislature at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced Friday that the statewide mask mandate would conclude on June 11, the same day that venues will be allowed to begin operating at 100 percent capacity.

Beshear’s announcement comes on the heels of the release of the latest coronavirus guidelines for vaccinated Americans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“After a long, dark pandemic, more of our people have gotten their shot of hope, and we have steadily moved to lift the last remaining restrictions put in place to slow the spread of this dangerous virus and save lives,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a press conference.

“Team Kentucky: Your patience, hard work, and sacrifices have paid off,” he added. “For those not vaccinated: You still have time.”

According to Beshear, the delay in lifting restrictions will provide Kentucky residents ages 12 to 15 time to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The governor also stated that the delay in time will also provide adults in Kentucky with an opportunity to get vaccinated before entering full capacity areas.

“Obviously there’s going to be more contact, there’s going to be less space,” Beshear said. “And if you are unvaccinated, there may be a greater likelihood that you could be exposed to COVID once we hit that June 11 date.”

According to Beshear, 1.9 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 35 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

An amended executive order, which is “subject to renewal,” was issued by Beshear and keeps mask mandates in place for any person in a K-12 school, child care environment, and health care and long-term care facilities.

“Where we are right now is, the CDC says if you’re vaccinated, you’re protected enough to where you don’t need a mask,” Beshear reiterated on Friday. “If you’re unvaccinated, you are not.”

“If you are unwilling to get vaccinated, you really need to wear the mask to protect yourself from what is a pretty lethal virus,” he added.

Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, criticized Beshear’s move, saying he “abandoned his vaccination goal but is still holding Kentucky hostage for another month.”

According to Quarles, “Kentucky will be one of the last states in our region to fully reopen” because of Beshear’s “slow action.”

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