Line to receive in-person unemployment assistance in Louisville on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020

People lined up for in-person unemployment assistance at the UAW Hall on Fern Valley Road in Louisville, Aug. 3. 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Andy Beshear plans to reopen Kentucky’s employment offices for in-person unemployment services on a permanent basis for the first time since the pandemic began.

Kentucky Career Centers will begin serving unemployment claimants by appointment on April 15, Beshear said Thursday, in the following cities:

Bowling Green; Covington; Elizabethtown; Hazard; Hopkinsville; Louisville; Morehead; Owensboro; Paducah; Prestonsburg; and Somerset.

In Lexington, “We are working on space to try to make that a reality as well,” Beshear said.

In-person services will not be offered in Frankfort.

Beshear briefly opened some offices last summer in response to an impromptu protest gathering in Frankfort. There were other intermittent opportunities for face-to-face help, such as last August when unemployment staffers set up at the UAW hall on Fern Valley Road in Louisville.

But Beshear has not reopened the offices permanently since the pandemic began last March, citing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Know that we are working to get those open and we believe we can do it safely,” he said Thursday.

Beshear said the state will make an online scheduling tool available for in-person appointments. He did not say Thursday when the tool will go live.

Kentucky’s thousands of people needing unemployment help have had trouble scheduling phone appointments using an online tool. As WDRB reported earlier this month, the appointments are immediately snatched up around midnight each night when a new batch comes open.

Another improvement planned next month: The state should have more capacity to help claimants on the phone with a new call center.

Beshear and his general counsel Amy Cubbage did not fully answer when asked how many employees currently provide unemployment help, and how that will change once the employment offices are reopened and new the call center is in place.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.