Governor orders closings and changes
By Greg Bird
To combat the possibility of further spreading of the COVID-19 virus, Governor Andy Beshear announced Monday that he was issuing an executive order limiting restaurants to restrict sales to carry-out, delivery and drive-through only – effectively prohibiting on-site consumption.
While the measure is designed to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the economic impact for many small restaurants could be devastating as a lack of customers for a prolonged time could force many to shutter their doors permanently.
Many local dining establishments are remaining open and following the order by offering take-out options and limited delivery. Drive-thru business has shown signs of remaining strong for businesses with that option.
It is unclear how long the restriction will be in place, but citizens are urged to continue to patronize their local dining establishments by ordering to-go or delivery orders.
Monday’s announcement also came with several other declarations regarding the closing of state offices to in-person services, extending a three-month extension to driver’s licenses, closing childcare centers and postponing the May Primary Election until June 23.
The Governor also said the state is taking steps to waive the waiting period for unemployment for those who are losing their jobs because of COVID-19 and issued the executive order Monday afternoon with specific details which include:
Kentuckians who temporarily lose their jobs or are quarantined because of COVID-19 will be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, according to Gov. Beshear. In addition, the seven-day waiting period to receive UI benefits will be waived during the state of emergency.
According to the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the following policy has been activated: If an individual is laid off and files initial claim application to request UI benefits. After the claimant files and requests payment, UI staff conduct eligibility review and process benefit request concurrently. If approved, initial payment is authorized for 14 days of benefits. Claimant may request benefits every two weeks. This process may continue for a maximum of 26 total weeks or until the claimant obtains employment or returns to work. The weekly benefit amount is based on the worker’s past wages. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $552.
The Governor issued another executive order Tuesday afternoon, this one calling on all “public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation or, that by the nature of the service to the public, cannot comply with CDC guidelines concerning social distancing, shall cease all in-person operations,” by the end of business Wednesday.
Those businesses affected include: entertainment, hospitality and recreational facilities, community and recreation centers, gyms and exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, concert venues, theaters, and sporting event facilities.
There are exemptions to the order, but those exempted must follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for public safety.
The exempted businesses include: “Those businesses providing food, food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, retail, grocery and consumer goods, home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy, and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.”
Gov. Beshear said the overriding goal of the order is to minimize in-person interaction, which is the primary means of transmission of COVID-19. The immediate implementation of the order is necessary as patrons of public-facing businesses gather in large numbers, in close proximity to each other and in enclosed spaces, endangering the health of customers and staff.
“For those out there trying to find an exception, if you’re not truly engaging in social distancing, if you are not taking those steps, it will force further action,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not that we want to take it, but we have to protect everybody. It’s all of our duties. Look for ways to be a part of the solution as opposed to being an exception to what we’re putting out there.”