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Lexington bar owner worries Kentucky is 'taking a step back' as COVID-19 cases increase

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Posted at 8:35 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 07:03:19-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's been full steam ahead at Bluegrass Tavern in downtown Lexington since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted back in June.

"We've had our best month of July ever compared to any other month, so it's been amazing," said Sean Ebbitt, the bar's owner.

But as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across Kentucky because of the delta variant, Ebbitt is concerned the virus could once again impact his business.

"It seems like we were progressing and going in the right direction and now...we're taking a step back," he said.

On Tuesday, Governor Beshear said Kentucky is, "rapidly approaching critical," in terms of COVID-19, with hospitalizations on track to surpass numbers seen at any point during the pandemic by the end of this week.

The governor is not considering capacity limits or shutdowns at this time, he said, but his administration will seriously consider a statewide mask mandate.

"That's where we are. That at least has to be part of the conversation 'cause if we run out of beds for people, if we run out of beds for people who are injured or sick or have a heart attack, don't we have to do something?" Governor Beshear said. "Don't we have to do something to make sure we've got that capacity for everybody?"

If a mask mandate is reinstated, Ebbitt said he worries how customers will react.

"We'd have no problem...enforcing it, it's just the worry is what level of compliance and kind of push back are we going to get from the customers?" he said. "Because that just adds an extra level of stress on the staff who have no control over this."

But Ebbitt also shared concern for the rising number of patients in Kentucky's hospitals.

"I'd never want to see anyone get turned away because of lack of beds," he said.

So he plans to follow whatever requirements are needed to keep people safe, he said.