FRANKFORT, Ky. – This evening, Gov. Andy Beshear announced even more decisive steps he is taking to contain and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Gov. Beshear reminded Kentuckians that throughout this time they must remain calm and be good teammates.
“We’re going to be dealing with this for some time. I cannot tell you how long, but I need everybody to be a good citizen – to remember that this is Team Kentucky. This is us against the coronavirus,” said Gov. Beshear. “At this point, it is all hands on deck. Every single one of us is important in this fight. I hope it gives you a sense of purpose and patriotic duty: to your country, to this commonwealth. What we do is we protect one another. Let’s defeat this. Let’s defeat it on our first try.”
Gov. Beshear encouraged people, when they do good things, help others and do their part in battling the virus, to post about them on social media using the hashtags #TeamKentucky and #TogetherKy.
“Let’s start spreading good news. We need it. At times like this, when we can share good things we are doing, it lifts us all up,” he said.
Gov. Beshear’s new actions, following the morning’s news of the state’s first confirmed death related to the virus, include:
Childcare centers to close by Friday
The policy will be forthcoming, but will include an exception for health care workers, and there will be some on-site employer exceptions.
“I know it’s going to be hard, but it’s all necessary. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe that we had to do it,” Gov. Beshear said. “But we will make it.”
Three-month extension on driver’s licenses
To help those who might have a driver’s license expiring in the coming weeks, Gov. Beshear said his administration would be providing a three-month extension on driver’s licenses.
Closing of in-person government services
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, Gov. Beshear said he was going to close government offices around the state to in-person services.
“We are going to make sure people can get the services they need, but we have to model the type of behavior that we want to see from other people,” he said.
Postponing the May Primary Election
Gov. Beshear said he agreed with Secretary of State Michael Adams’s recommendation to postpone the state’s Primary Election, which would have been held in May, to Tuesday, June 23, 2020. To view Gov. Beshear’s executive order on elections, click here.
“Postponing the primary was not an easy decision. But the Republican secretary of state and the Democratic governor agree, and so do county clerks of both parties. And they are our front line election administrators,” said Adams.
Issued guidance on closing restaurants and bars to in-person service
Monday afternoon, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order outlining the specific steps restaurants and bars should take regarding closure, which include:
- By 5 p.m. on March 16, 2020, food and beverage sales are restricted to carry-out, delivery and drive-thru only; no on-site consumption is permitted; and
- The order does not apply to and/or exempt food service in health care facilities or any congregate living facilities, such as long-term care facilities as defined by KRS 216.510 and similar locations; and
- Liquor, beer and wine sales in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are restricted to carry-out, delivery and drive-thru services only, to the extent permitted by law. No on-site consumption is permitted; and
- Establishments offering carry-out, delivery and drive-thru orders shall ensure that patrons and employees engage in appropriate social distancing (staying 6 feet away from each other).
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 bars and restaurants gather in large numbers, in close proximity to each other and in enclosed spaces, and endanger the health of the staff as well as the patrons.
“The Department for Public Health delegates to local health departments the authority to take all necessary measures to implement the order,” said Gov. Beshear.
Issued unemployment insurance executive order
Monday morning, Gov. Beshear 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:
- Individual is laid off and files initial claim application to request UI benefits.
- After 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.
“My obligation is to keep people safe during this time. I realize many of the steps I am taking to protect Kentuckians during this COVID-19 emergency are affecting employers and workers financially. Temporarily waiving some of the UI benefit rules during this time is one step I can do to help protect Kentuckians financially. I know this is a difficult time but we are going to get through this by working together to help each other,” said Gov. Beshear.
On Monday, Gov. Beshear said he wants every Kentuckian to be able to qualify for unemployment and does not want any impediments that keep anyone from being able to get through the difficulties.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
Gov. Beshear said his administration has applied for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration. The U.S. Small Business Association is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses (private and non-profit organizations) suffering from substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus.