Kentucky orders bars to close, restaurants to reduce indoor capacity

All bars in Kentucky will be shut down for the next two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced Monday.

The move, effective Tuesday, marks the second time that bars have been shut in the state and comes amid a major uptick in coronavirus cases. 

Indoor dining at restaurants will be reduced to 25 percent capacity, Beshear said. Outdoor seating can remain at full capacity as long as physical distancing is enforced, and everyone needs to be seated.

Bars that serve food will be allowed to continue operating but will need to follow restaurant guidelines, Beshear said.  

The state has recorded nearly 12,000 COVID-19 cases in July, almost double the number of positive cases in June. 

“The line and the trend is undeniable,” Beshear said in a press conference. 

He announced 522 new positive cases of COVID-19, and raising the seven-day positivity rate to 5.58 percent. 

Of the new cases, 21 were children younger than 5. One is 11 days old, Beshear said. 

Beshear said he was taking action now to prevent Kentucky’s situation from worsening. He has made face masks mandatory statewide and limited gatherings of people to 10 or fewer. 

“I don’t want to be a state that runs out of ICU beds and one of your loved ones doesn’t have space,” Beshear said. “By taking action right now, we can keep all of that from happening.” 

Beshear’s moves are backed by the Trump administration. 

His announcement comes after he and health leaders in Kentucky met on Sunday with Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, who recommended that the state close bars and curtail restaurant capacity. 

Currently, both restaurants and bars can operate with an indoor capacity of 50 percent and unlimited outdoor seating

Aside from bars and restaurants, Beshear also recommended both public and private schools delay in-person classes until the third week of August, to give the state more time to bring the infection level under control.

“My commitment is, regardless of the pressures that are out there, are to make the decisions that save lives, protect our economy, and will ultimately give the best chance to get our kids back in school at some point,” Beshear said.