FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Fourteen months after the pandemic hit Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said the words many people were hoping to hear.
"In just one month from today, life will almost be fully back to normal," said Beshear on Friday.
On June 11, Kentucky will return to 100% capacity for all businesses and the mask mandate will expire.
However, masks will still need to be worn in place "where people are the most vulnerable," which includes long-term care facilities, hospitals, jails, schools, public transportation, and homeless shelters.
The masking requirement for fully vaccinated people was already lifted on Thursday thanks to new guidance from the CDC. But the unvaccinated are still being asked to wear masks indoors until June 11. Why the one-month delay? The governor says it's to give 12 to 15-year-olds a chance to get vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine was just opened up to that age group this week.
"One month gives our 12 to 15-year-olds the necessary time to get vaccinated," said Beshear.
So, for the next month, there will be different masking requirements for people who are vaccinated and those who are not. But Beshear says even if you have gotten the shot, he suggests still having a mask on you because businesses will be allowed to set their own masking rules.
"There are businesses out there that look like they are going to continue to require masks - one large grocery chain. Please respect that," said Beshear. "Again, that's their business. If they want to require wearing masks, they can."
How will the different mask rules be enforced? Gov. Beshear didn't answer that question directly but implied the honor system will be way things work.
So, some will need to wait a month longer to take off their masks. But Friday marks a big day for Kentucky's return to normal and the emotion wasn't lost on Kentucky's public health commissioner.
"Walking into the Capitol this morning is the first time, I think, all of us have seen each other's faces without masks in a long time," said Dr. Stack. "So, I think the emotion captures how meaningful this is and it does sort of feel like there's a new day dawning out there."
Beshear and Stack reiterated that the return to normal is made possible by the success of the vaccines. As of Friday, 1.9 million Kentuckians have been vaccinated. The Governor said everyone who is eligible should be able to get the shot ahead of June 11.