Restaurants Can Partially Reopen Dining Areas On May 22

COVID-19 Update For Thursday, May 7

Restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining on May 22, but will only be able to operate indoor dining at about a third of their pre-pandemic capacity, Gov. Beshear announced Thursday. The photo shows residents taking part in a Greek style dinner at Olde Towne Park on Main Street last year.

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

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Gov. Andy Beshear has moved up the date for restaurants to reopen their dining areas to Friday, May 22.

Restaurants must still meet the guidelines for reopening the state has already set in place. While outdoor dining areas can reopen, indoor dining areas can only operate at 33-percent of pre-pandemic capacity.

“I know this is not the capacity that our restaurants probably want,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is the best compromise.”

He also cautioned restaurateurs not to rush to reopen until they had acquired the necessary personal protection equipment, including masks, gloves and disinfectants to perform proper deep cleanings.

“Many will find they won’t be ready by that date,” he said.

The governor pushed up the date for restaurant dining areas to be part of phase 2 of Kentucky’s reopening. He said movie theaters and fitness centers can reopen on Monday, June 1, public and private campgrounds can reopen on Thursday, June 11, and childcare and youth sports—as long as they low contact and can be held outdoors—will resume on Monday, June 15. Phase 3 starts in July, when bars can reopen and groups of 50 people or more will be able to gather.

Everything is contingent on there being no spike in COVID-19 infections, the governor said.

“We’re all going to have to be willing to pause,” he said.

He was asked about fairs. The governor said it was difficult at present to set a date. He said each ride and game would need to be cleaned between each use.

Beshear said discussions with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine played a role in his decision to move up reopening restaurants before the Memorial Day weekend. Ohio is opening outdoor seating earlier. Beshear said Kentucky was waiting to make sure everyone had the necessary equipment first.

“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it safe,” the governor said.

He said it was possible to move up the date because of the increase in the state’s testing capacity.

Working with various private partners, Kentucky now has the capacity to perform up to 30,000 tests per week, he said. There are now 72 sites across across the commonwealth offering testing.

On Thursday, he announced a new partnership with First Care Clinics who will provide drive-thru testing seven days a wee at their 13 sites in Kentucky, including Danville. First Care accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. The governor said most insurers have dropped co-payments, meaning employees and employers will not have to pay anything. First Care will also enroll those without insurance in a federal program that will pay for testing.

To find out more, visit firstcareclinics.com.

“This is one of the reasons I believe we can do Healthy At Work,” Beshear said.

Initially, testing was restricted only to those who were ill and had underlying health conditions. Now everyone who wants to be tested is invited to do so.

“If you feel a little bit sick, get a test.” the governor said.

At Thursday’s briefing, the governor announced 208 new cases, raising the state’s total to 6,129 including 10 probables cases. Beshear said 2,177 Kentuckians have recovered so far. He also announced 11 new deaths—eight of them in long term care facilities. That raises the state’s total to 294.

Across the world, there are now 3.9-million confirmed cases, with 270,123 deaths and 1.3 million recoveries recorded so far, according to worldometers.com. In the U.S., the global epicenter for the pandemic, there are 1.2 million confirmed cases, with 25,959 recorded over the past day. According to the website, there have been 76,791 deaths—with 1,992 recorded over the past day—and 215,591 recoveries.

On Friday, Gov. Beshear will lay out plans for increased testing at long term care facilities. He cautioned that the number of confirmed cases would go up similar to the way they did on Tuesday, May 5. On that day, 625 new cases were recorded, 309 of them at Green River Correction Complex in Muhlenberg County, where he ordered everyone to be tested, including inmates, staff and regular visitors.

The governor aid a lot of the new cases would be asymptomatic, which was the case when they tested inmates and staff at Green River.

Beshear asked Kentuckians to be patient and keep following state guidelines, which include wearing masks in public, to prevent the spread of the disease.

“This is a battle we’re going to be fighting until there’s a vaccine,” he said.

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