FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday he has signed an executive order making it mandatory to wear a mask following a huge spike in cases of the coronavirus in recent days.
During a press briefing in the State Capitol Rotunda, Beshear said the order will take effect at 5 p.m. on Friday. “I’m going to mandate that Kentuckians, in certain situations in public, must wear a facial covering or mask.”
As for what this means, the governor said, “All customers in retail facilities must wear a mask. In grocery stores, must wear a mask. In most forward-facing businesses, must wear a mask. If you are indoors and you can’t get six feet from individuals on anything that’s not covered, must wear a mask. Outside, if you cannot be six feet away from another individual, must wear a mask.”
Beshear said the National Retail Federation and the Kentucky Retail Association specifically asked him to take the action. “They’re now at 50 percent of capacity and they don’t want to go back. They have asked every governor to require every individual that’s not covered by a medical condition to wear masks when shopping in public places.”
Beshear says this is to protect the employees, the businesses and the customers themselves, and that the order will be in effect for 30 days.
“I want to see how well we can do in 30 days,” he said. “It’s going to be enforced by local health departments, and others; and it’s going to be as simple as if someone won’t wear a mask in your place of business, then they can’t be served. It’s that simple.
“We cannot let where we are, 333 new cases today, turn into 3,352.”
That is the number of cases that Arizona, whose population is 50 percent larger than Kentucky, reported on July 6, 10 times as many as Kentucky.
Those 333 new cases on Thursday, makes the total 18,245 since the first case was reported in Kentucky on March 6.
In addition, four more deaths were reported to state health officials, making it 612 Kentuckians who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
“We can’t wait until we are getting thousands a day to take certain actions,” Beshear said.
He also played a video made by University of Kentucky basketball Coach John Calipari, in which he said, “Yes, I am ready for basketball. I’m ready to get our students back on campus. But, we’ve got to protect each other. We’ve got to wear our masks. If you go in a building, if you’re going to be in social distancing range, inside six feet, wear a mask.”
Beshear described consequences for those who refuse to wear a mask. “For individuals, it’s going to start with a warning. Ultimately, we believe if there is chronic refusal, it could lead to a fine. For businesses that aren’t trying to enforce it, there are going to be significant consequences.”
He said he knew people who went to a restaurant in western Kentucky this past weekend, where no employees were wearing masks. “That would result in the shutdown of the restaurant.”
Beshear added, there are 22 other states that have already instituted the mandatory wearing of masks or other facial covering.