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Health Commissioner announces new rules for Kentucky capitol demonstrations

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Posted at 12:24 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 08:12:54-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — After more than 100 protesters gathered outside the capitol on Wednesday, Kentucky’s public health commissioner has announced new rules for future demonstrations.

On Thursday, caution tape blocked off a section of the state capitol lawn as Kentucky state police patrolled the area.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack released a statement Thursday afternoon describing the kind of demonstrations that will be allowed at the capitol moving forward. Drive up and drive in protests will be allowed, the statement said, but participants must stay in their vehicles.

“I cherish our democracy as much as anyone else does,” Dr. Stack said at the governor’s briefing on Thursday. “It’s just a difficult tension because our right to express ourselves should not expose others to danger that we know can lead to death.”

The statement comes after protesters gathered Wednesday to call for Kentucky businesses to re-open. The governor said the gathering did not follow social distancing guidelines.

“We want to make sure people have the right to voice their opinion but in the middle of a pandemic, to do it safely,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his Thursday briefing.

He also addressed chanting from the protesters that could be heard during his Wednesday briefing.

“We’re working on sound proofing. I understand a couple dozen people wanted to drown us out yesterday but, you know, I think that there are a whole lot of people at home, a whole lot of people out there that wanted the information we provided yesterday,” he said.

A few protesters showed up at the capitol on Thursday but did not gather. One person said the drive up rule infringes on his rights.

“It’s a shredding of my civil liberties,” Joseph Sullivan said. “I have a constitutional right to be out here and protest.”

Healthy Kentuckians should be able to return to work, he said, while those at risk stay home.

“We the people are the essentials,” he said, “All of us and it’s essential for all of us to work in order to keep this country thriving.”

Beshear maintains that re-opening businesses now would cause more people to die because of coronavirus.