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Kentucky Businesses, Lawmakers Navigate Life Under New Mask Guidance

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Last week's relaxed mask guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has thrown the enforcement ball into businesses' court, and prompted new moves from policymakers concerns about what comes next.


The eased masking recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans mean a mishmash of policies depending on where one goes. For now, some companies are ⁠— and aren't ⁠— lining up with the new guidelines.

Vaccinated shoppers at Target, Costco, Starbucks, Walmart and Trader Joe's no longer need to mask up, per the latest announcements, while those at Kroger, Home Depot, Whole Foods, and Meijer are still being asked to wear facial coverings.

Gov. Andy Beshear was asked if the new guidance amounts to an honor system.  

"[Businesses] can post the rule, they can make announcements, they don't need to be checking for anybody's cards, and then on June 11, unless they are one of a number of very specific locations, they won't have to worry about it at all," Beshear said. 

June 11 marks what many are calling Kentucky's reopening date. The administration plans to lift all remaining capacity restrictions and undo the state's mask mandate in most situations.

Credit NY Governor's Press Office via AP, File
In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.


A Kentucky lawmaker is working on a bill that would bar state government from mandating what are often called "vaccine passports."

The Biden administration has already ruled out any policy requiring individuals to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

"The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

But that assurance need more teeth, according to GOP Rep. Brandon Reed.

The Hodgenville lawmaker and minister says he crafting a bill that would put the Biden promise in writing, at least in Kentucky. Under the bill, slated for filing in June, state government would be prevented from enforcing any vaccination passport. Doing otherwise, Reed argues, opens the door to government overreach.

Vaccination documents are, however, a part of the wider conversation among businesses and other entities considering requiring some form of proof that patrons have been inoculated against COVID-19.

It's yet another issue where Americans are deeply divided, with some regarding the idea as a straightforward safety precaution meant to build trust and others arguing it runs afoul of civil liberties.

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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