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Kentucky To Gradually Ease Restrictions Starting May 11

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Segments of Kentucky's economy are slated to gradually reopen over a period of weeks starting May 11, barring another spike in coronavirus cases.

As the state allows hospitals and other healthcare facilities to slowly ramp up services, Gov. Andy Beshear says a broader phased-in reopening for sectors of the Kentucky economy will begin on May 11.

"Every week thereafter for four weeks, we are going to gradually ease some restrictions, bring some groups or some industries back online," Beshear explained Monday. "It gives us time to get the right compliance, restrictions, (and) guidelines in place, industry by industry."

The announcement appeared to tweak previous plans, which provided for a Kentucky-tailored "Phase 1" reopening, modeled on White House guidelines, only after a two-week decline in the rate of cases. Under the timeline unveiled Monday, the state would work in piecemeal fashion toward Phase 1. For now, tests continue to show a leveling off of cases in the state, though health officials remain wary of moving too quickly.

"Just because the disease right now seems to be at a plateau, it is not time to feel that you are safe," State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack added. "This is exactly the time we are at risk for the greatest harm if people start to get lax about complying with the things we ask you to do."

One of those new requirements, also beginning May 11, will be that everyone out in public wear a mask, with the exception of those walking or running on their own.

"This is something that, until we get to a vaccine, is going to be part of our new normal," the governor said.

Beshear says individuals will not be cited or arrested for failing to wear a mask, but businesses will risk closure orders if they don't comply. Stores will also be able to turn away customers who are not wearing a face covering.

Other news:

  • Kentucky hospitals and healthcare facilities can resume outpatient or ambulatory surgeries on May 6, provided they comply with guidance. All patients must be tested for COVID-19.
  • The state sent out $174 million in unemployment claims Sunday night. Those who applied in the month of March should receive payment by the end of the week.
  • Kentucky will be bringing in more than 700 workers to perform contact tracing.
  • Monday's report included 87 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, only one of which appeared in Fayette County. There were five new deaths reported in the state.
  • Bars and clubs are unlikely to reopen until at least June, according to the governor.
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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