The Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) on Wednesday issued an emergency license suspension for a coffee shop after it refused to close down for violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Lexington coffee shop Brewed was ordered to close on Tuesday, but opened on Wednesday anyway, serving dozens of customers. Owner Andrew Cooperrider said on Tuesday that he would not stop indoor service the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Cooperrider is an official in the Kentucky Libertarian Party and posted on his Facebook page that he refused to comply with new restrictions ordered by Gov. Andy Beshear (D) last week.
Beshear issued sweeping new restrictions last week saying, “inaction is deadly." His new restrictions shut down in-person learning, prohibited indoor service at restaurants and bars, and limited the capacity of gyms, weddings and offices.
"Pretending this virus isn't real is not an option," said Beshear. "It's time to do what it takes to finish this fight."
Beshear stated that most restaurants and bars have complied with the order, which went into effect on Nov. 20. For the businesses that defy the orders, Beshear said they could lose their alcohol licenses and be fined up to $100 by the health department.
Customers reportedly crowded the coffee shop on Wednesday, with some coming out explicitly “because they’re fighting” the governor’s orders.
The newspaper spoke to several of those customers, with one truck driver named Christie Coleman saying, “There’s no reason to shut everything down.” Coleman told the newspaper that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had visited multiple restaurants everywhere she had gone.
On his Facebook page, Cooperrider wrote, “Andy says no more beer. ABC pulled the license. This was expected. We didn’t even order beer this week.”
Despite the combative reaction from some owners, Beshear has made some provisions for such businesses. When announcing the restrictions, he also announced a $40 million fund to aid restaurants and bars impacted due to the closures. Businesses could be eligible for up to $20,000 in assistance if they have more than one location.
According to recent data, nearly all of Kentucky’s counties are in the “red” zone, meaning they have reported more than 25 cases per every 100,000 people over the past 7 days. The Bluegrass State has so far reported 162,838 cases and 1,809 deaths according to data from the CDC. On Nov. 20 it reported 3,816 cases, the most it has ever recorded in a single day.