Beshear hints at business re-openings in May, but in stages

Coronavirus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear hinted at business re-openings beginning in May, but said Kentucky’s “new normal” will require people and workers to wear masks in public areas while the coronavirus remains a threat.

Beshear said that beginning May 11, state officials are planning to ease restrictions over four weeks to reach Phase 1 of the White House’s guidelines for re-opening. He did not give details on what kinds of businesses would be allowed to restart operations.

“We are going to gradually ease some restrictions, bring groups or industries back online,” Beshear said at his Monday briefing at the capitol.

But with that easing will come requirements for the public to wear masks in certain areas, since contacts will increase as people go back to work and step out in public, he said.

The masks “help us to open things a little earlier,” Beshear said. He urged families to find cloth or surgical masks and said the state will be handing out masks in some areas.

Beshear reported 87 new case of the virus on Monday, and five new deaths. The state’s total of cases has surpassed 4,100.

Beshear on Monday earned praise from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to provide federal relief to state and local governments because of the coronavirus.

At his daily virus briefing, Cuomo said Monday that Beshear “stood up” to McConnell after the senator suggested states could go bankrupt if they run into budget troubles during the pandemic. Cuomo has been critical of McConnell for offering federal bankruptcy as a solution for struggling budgets.

“Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear stood up, said to his senior senator in the state, Mitch McConnell, that Mitch McConnell was wrong on saying he wouldn’t provide funding for state and local governments, and wrong in saying states should go bankrupt,” Cuomo said.

Beshear was asked about McConnell’s bankruptcy comments at his daily briefing on Friday. Beshear, a Democrat who won the governor’s race by 5,000 votes in November, said he and McConnell have a good relationship.

But “on this piece I disagree with him, as does every governor in the United States,” Beshear said. “This isn’t a blue or red state issue.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Congress’ next economic package should provide billions for financially reeling state and local governments, adding there “will not be a bill without state and local” relief.

McConnell said Monday in a statement that the Senate would reconvene on May 4. He said lawmakers should not “get distracted by pre-existing partisan wish-lists or calls to paper over decades of reckless decisions that had nothing to do with COVID-19.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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