FRANKFORT, Ky (AP) — Kentucky's coronavirus-related capacity restrictions, as well as the state’s mask mandate, will largely end on June 11, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.
Masks will still be required on public transportation, schools, long-term care facilities and other locations that serve the “most vulnerable,” Beshear said during a virtual press briefing.
“Just one month from today, life will be almost fully back to normal,” the Democratic governor said. “One month gives our 12- to 15-year-olds the necessary time to get vaccinated ... one month also gives notice and time to everyone else who has not received their shot of hope.”
More than 1.9 million Kentuckians and roughly 53% of Kentucky adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Kentucky opened up vaccinations to residents ages 12 to 15 on Thursday.
“If you want to take the mask off and be safe, get vaccinated,” Beshear said. “If you are unwilling to get vaccinated, you really need to wear the mask to protect yourself from what is a pretty lethal virus.”
The state’s test positivity rate is about 3.04%. The positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
Beshear called the new CDC guidance "a game changer,” adding that the end of restrictions would not prevent businesses from requiring masks if they chose to do so.
While capacity in most Kentucky businesses is currently at 60%, all businesses can increase to 75% capacity on May 28. That standard applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings. The state of emergency declared in March 2020 will remain in place, he added.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.