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Kentucky Sets Target Dates To Reopen Restaurants, Childcare

Eric Gay / AP

Kentucky is aiming to reopen restaurants sooner than expected, with movie theaters, fitness centers, and childcare facilities to follow. Safety requirements are steep, however, and the governor says all businesses must be ready to hit pause at the first sign of another spike in coronavirus cases.

The Beshear administration moved the restaurant reopen date up to May 22, partly in response to consultations with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the reopening dates seen in other neighboring states. If they meet state-mandated rules by or after May 22, restaurants can open at a third capacity indoors with unlimited outdoor seating if the proper spacing can be achieved.

"I know this isn't the capacity that our restaurants probably want," Gov. Andy Beshear said. "But the studies that we look at show that we've got to be really careful about this step. This allows it to be open for Memorial Day weekend, but please be careful."

The phased restart continues June 2 with movie theaters and fitness centers, campgrounds on June 11, and limited outdoor youth sports and childcare targeted for June 15. Phase 3, tentatively set for July, could include gatherings of up to 50 people.

The announcement comes as the state unveils significant increases in testing capacity, and a new partnership with First Care Clinics dedicated to providing work-related testing. The days of limiting tests to those most at risk, Beshear said, are over.

"We all lived through that time where I had to say if you're doing ok, don't get a test. That's not the case anymore," the governor stated. Whether you're just feeling a little sick, wondering if your symptoms are allergies, or you're returning to work and worried about your family, Beshear's advice: "Get a test."

Friday, the state plans to roll out an aggressive program for testing at long-term care facilities, which have accounted for a large number of cases and fatalities in the state.  

Other news:

  • The state reported 208 new cases on Wednesday, 22 in Fayette County. There were 11 new deaths attributed to the virus.
  • Cautioning younger people not to dismiss COVID-19, the governor read off a list of ages taken from the day's new cases, which included many in their 20s and 30s, as well as several teenagers and a three-year-old.
  • The state's field hospital at the Louisville fairgrounds is no longer staffed, but will remain available if needed.
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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