March 25, 2023

Kentucky governor sets vaccine benchmark to end restrictions

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday said the state was less than 1 million vaccinations away from being able to lift many of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The governor made those comments at the opening of the state’s largest vaccination center at Cardinal Stadium. The parking lot for the University of Louisville’s football stadium has been transformed into a 28-lane drive-thru clinic that can administer up to 4,000 shots a day.

He used the occasion to announce a challenge to the state. Once 2.5 million Kentuckians have received their first dose of a vaccine, Beshear said the state will be able to lift restrictions on capacity and social distancing at most venues and establishments that serve 1,000 or fewer people.

The curfew on bars and restaurants would also end at that time, he added. Currently, those establishments are allowed to serve food and beverages until midnight local time and must close at 1 a.m.

“This is what you’ve been waiting for,” the governor said. “A clear number and a clear goal to hit.”

Currently, there are nearly 1.6 million Kentuckians who have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Beshear said the state could meet its goal in as little as three-and-a-half weeks, but between four-to-six weeks is more realistic.

The new Louisville site will play a pivotal role in helping the state ease restrictions. Over the next seven weeks, state and university officials expect about 200,000 people to get their coronavirus shots there.

“We’re asking each of you to do your part,” Beshear said “Make sure if you’re a restaurant that your entire staff has been vaccinated. Make sure if you are a business, a retail location, all of your staff has been vaccinated. Reach out to your customers. Reach out to those that want to get back to normalcy.”

The Kentucky Restaurant Association has pressed Beshear for months to end the curfew among its other concerns. President and CEO Stacy Roof told The Center Square on Monday the business group is glad a reopening metric is now in place.

“But there is still a great need for collaboration between the governor’s office and restaurants as we work toward being fully open,” she said. “We urge the governor to work with restaurants to ensure we have the labor force in place to get reopening right.”

Not all restrictions will go away once the challenge is met. Beshear said masking requirements will stay in place until the state is able to keep the British variant under control. Also, major events, such as college football games this fall at the 61,000-seat stadium will still need to be addressed.

A mile away from the vaccination site, Churchill Downs will hold the Kentucky Derby on its traditional first Saturday in May date this year, albeit at a reduced capacity. Track officials said last week reserved seating areas will be limited to about half capacity while the infield crowd will be capped between 25 and 30% of its capacity.

This article was originally posted on Kentucky governor sets vaccine benchmark to end restrictions

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