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Beshear Restrictions Face New Tests As National COVID Surge Looms

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Gov. Andy Beshear's handling of the coronavirus pandemic won him early praise at the outset of the viral outbreak, but the administration's phased-in reopening and ongoing restrictions are facing more scrutiny and pushback as the pandemic progresses.

Throughout the crisis, Beshear has repeatedly urged lawmakers and citizens to put politics aside and unify around a common strategy to fight COVID-19. But that goal has grown more difficult in an environment of shutdown protests, resistance to masks and other precautions, and a piecemeal reopening process that has drawn legal challenges.

A federal judge ruled the administration overstepped its authority in limiting in-person demonstrations at the Capitol, and last week plaintiffs successfully won an emergency injunction permitting Florence Speedway to fill to half capacity and a promise from the same judge to take a closer look at daycare restrictions.

Two prominent Republicans, Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, are both lining up behind efforts to rein in the governor's authority or give lawmakers and the public a greater say in rulemaking.

Beshear has cautioned that adverse court rulings could hamper the government's ability to fight COVID-19.

"If we have significant limitations and we have a big spike again, it may prevent us from doing what it takes to battle that next spike," the Democrat warned in mid-May.

That statement may be tested sooner than many had hoped. While Kentucky has managed to keep cases relatively in check, most states - including neighboring Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana - are seeing a resurgence.

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