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April 20, 2020 5:35pm

Kentucky announces framework for reopening the economy

On Friday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear outlined a framework for reopening the Commonwealth’s economy. Governor Beshear expalined that Kentucky’s plan largely mirrors steps recommended by the White House from earlier in the week. “We believe our approach is very much in line with the White House. The plan put out by the White House has certain thresholds that states should meet before we start taking certain steps,” Gov. Beshear said. “The benchmarks are being driven by public health. We are all on the same page about what keeps people safe.”

The White House plan includes a three-phase process for reopening.

  • Phase 1 encourages continued adherence to social distancing guidelines by the CDC but would allow some businesses to reopen with caution. Telework would still be encouraged where possible.
  • Phase 2 again encourages social distancing and telework but recommends non-essential travel should be allowed to resume, schools could reopen, restaurants could operate with moderate distancing protocols, and elective surgeries could restart.
  • Phase 3 recommends “unrestricted staffing” of worksites and would reopen gyms, large venues, and bars.

In Kentucky, Governor Beshear stated that his administration would look for the following metrics before moving to the first phase.

  • 14 days where cases are decreasing
  • Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability
  • Ability to protect at-risk populations
  • Ability to social distance and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on large gatherings
  • Preparedness for possible future spike
  • Status of vaccine and treatment

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health emphasized that reopening the economy will need to be counterbalanced with a rise in disease. “Normal going forward is not the same as normal going into this. When we start lifting restrictions, I want to be very clear, there will be more disease. More people will get infected. There is a counterbalancing need with people’s need to go on with life and people’s need to remain safe. We have recognized that all along.”

Governor Beshear added that some restrictions for the health care sector could be loosened before May.

In a press release, Governor Beshear provided more details on what the first phase of reopening the economy could look like.

Individuals

  • Individuals should continue to practice good hygiene
  • People who feel sick should stay home
  • All vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place
  • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others
  • All individuals should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, unless precautionary measures can be strictly observed
  • Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel

Employers

  • Should continue to encourage telework
  • If possible, should return to work in phases
  • Close common areas
  • Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel
  • Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population

Specific types of employers

  • Schools and organized youth activities that are currently closed should remain closed
  • Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should still be prohibited
  • Large venues (sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols
  • Elective surgeries can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines
  • Gyms can reopen if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Bars should remain closed