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Kentucky lifting restrictions on travel, gathering sooner

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, left, speaks during a media conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., to provide an update on the coronavirus pandemic Monday, May 11, 2020. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
May 14, 2020 - 4:09 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky will lift its restrictions on travel and small gatherings ahead of Memorial Day weekend, moving up the timing to accommodate holiday plans, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Beginning May 22, people can gather in groups of 10 or fewer, the governor said. The previous date for resuming such gatherings had been May 25, which is Memorial Day.

Even while bending on the timeline, Beshear stressed that people need to follow health guidelines to help contain the coronavirus outbreak, which had prompted the restrictions.

“We realize that people are making plans for Memorial Day," the governor said at his daily briefing. “And I trust that we can do this right. That we can do this safely.”

Gatherings should be outside whenever possible, and people should not share food, drinks, containers, plates, napkins or utensils, he said. They also should follow social distancing rules.

“Hopefully, just take and roll with these rules the best that you can so that you can be as protected as possible,” Beshear said.

Restrictions on out-of-state travel also will expire on May 22, the governor said. Those restrictions played an important role in “flattening the curve” of coronavirus cases in Kentucky, he said.

People should still be cautious about where they choose to travel, Beshear said.

“If you are thinking about going to the beach right now, it is still very dangerous,” he said.

The governor reported two more virus-related deaths in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total death count to at least 328 since the pandemic began. Beshear also reported 199 more coronavirus cases, raising the statewide total to at least 7,225 cases. More than 2,710 people in Kentucky have recovered from the virus, but 220 virus patients are in intensive care units, he said.

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.

Meanwhile, the Team Kentucky Fund, which has taken donations for residents affected by the pandemic, will begin taking applications for payouts, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said Thursday.

The assistance, a maximum of $1,000 per household, will come as vouchers that can be used for gas, rent, food and other necessities. People who have lost their job or had a reduction in income of 50% or more can apply for the assistance at teamkyfund.gov. The fund has about $3 million, Coleman said.

Beshear also continued to stress the importance of wearing masks in public, especially as Kentuckians start returning to work. He said he had heard instances in which people poked fun at co-workers for wearing masks. Beshear noted that health experts stress the need to wear masks.

“We are not smarter than all of the health experts," he said. “They know what they’re talking about with communicable diseases. And us pressuring someone else to do something that could protect them or potentially keep them from spreading it to somebody else, let’s not be that person.”

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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