Kentucky will end its mask mandate on June 11 and lift capacity limits on businesses and events. Governor Andy Beshear said on Friday that the commonwealth will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines announced on Thursday, but he will take a month to fully implement the recommendations.
“With these developments, today I’m announcing we will return to 100% capacity for all venues and events in exactly one month on June 11. On June 11, we will also eliminate our mask mandate for all Kentuckians with the exceptions of places where people are the most vulnerable. On June 11, just one month from today, life will be almost fully back to normal.”
Choosing June 11 gives one month for those currently unvaccinated to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Until this week, children ages 12 to 14 could not receive the vaccination. Kentucky began vaccinating children in that age group on Thursday. Governor Beshear cited a concern about giving those kids time to receive the vaccine as one reason he delayed lifting pandemic restrictions. He also used the delay as an opportunity to remind those not yet vaccinated to sign up for the vaccine.
Thursday’s announcement by the CDC explained that those fully vaccinated could go without wearing a mask in most settings, both indoors and outdoors. The exceptions include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and prisons. Government health officials continue to insist that those not yet vaccinated need to wear masks while in most public settings.
Governor Beshear said that while Kentucky immediately adopted the new CDC guidelines, those who have received the vaccine still must wear masks in the following situations: public transportation; health care settings; long-term care settings; K-12 educational, preschool, day care, or other childcare settings; correctional facilities; and homeless shelters.
Under the CDC guidance, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks in most business settings, but Governor Beshear said he expects some business owners will continue requiring masks. He urged Kentuckians to respect both business owners who want to continue the requirement and people who wish to continue to wear a mask in public settings.
Republican leaders had been critical of Governor Beshear for sticking to a goal of 2.5 million Kentuckians vaccinated before setting a reopening date. Friday, the Governor said 1.9 million Kentuckians had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
After the announcement, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles tweeted, “With today’s announcement, Governor Andrew Beshear has abandoned his vaccination goal but is still holding Kentucky hostage for another month. As result of his slow action, Kentucky will be one of the last states in our region to fully reopen.”
Commissioner Quarles continued, “By not lifting the mask mandate immediately, the governor throws the burden of enforcing mask compliance onto our businesses to try to figure out who (is) and who isn’t vaccinated. He should eliminate the mask mandate immediately, like Tennessee and Indiana have.”