Coronavirus: Mandatory face coverings begin in Kentucky on Friday

Coronavirus: Mandatory face coverings begin in Kentucky on Friday
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order Thursday that requires residents to wear masks in public places beginning Friday. (Bryan Woolston/Associated Press)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that masks will be required in public places throughout the state, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The executive order, issued to fight the spike in coronavirus cases in the state, goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m., Beshear said at a news conference. The edict will include restaurants, gyms, retail stores, government buildings and any other places where people cannot maintain social distancing, WHAS reported.

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The order will be in effect for 30 days and can be renewed, the governor said. There are exemptions, as people with medical conditions and children age 5 and under will not be required to have face coverings.

Beshear said there were 333 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, pushing the statewide total to at least 18,245 people, WLKY reported. Four more people with the virus have died, putting the death toll at 612.

“Folks, we are still in a battle, and it is not going away,” Beshear said at the news conference. “We have a dangerous and deadly virus out there, and we are now seeing a regular increase in cases in Kentucky.

“It’s no longer a question: a mask helps to stop the spread. (Wearing a mask) “is no longer voluntary. It’s mandatory. It’s time to get serious.”

The governor said he realized some people might find the executive order an infringement upon rights, but he said health issues were more important.

“A decision to not wear a mask, you can think there’s some liberty component, but any of that ends when you put the health and safety of someone else at risk,” Beshear said.

“Folks, wear a mask. It’s not a drill,” Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said. “This is the biggest infectious public health threat that our species has faced in over a century. All we’re asking you to do is a simple act of kindness.”