LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he is ordering Kentuckians to wear a mask or facial covering in public for the next 30 days to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The order goes into effect at 5 pm Friday, July 10.
Beshear cited an "explosion" of COVID-19 cases nationally and a slight uptick in Kentucky cases in the last five days. Kentucky reported 333 new cases on Thursday and 4 additional deaths.
"In the midst of a worldwide health pandemic, wearing a mask makes a lot of sense," Beshear said. "And is it too much to ask? I don't think so."
Beshear said the order applies to people in restaurants and stores, including groceries, and "most-forward facing businesses." Text of the order was not immediately available.
Beshear said local health departments will enforce the order. He likened it to businesses that say "no shirt, no shoes, no service."
"If someone won't wear a mask in your place of business, then they cannot be served," Beshear said.
People with health conditions that preclude facial coverings and children under age 5 will not be expected to comply with the order, Beshear said.
Beshear said 22 states have some sort of mask requirement and that the National Retail Federation supports the move.
Beshear dismisses judge's ruling curbing his power
In issuing the new mandate, Beshear brushed off a Scott County judge’s ruling Thursday that undercuts his executive authority to implement COVID-19 restrictions.
Scott County Circuit Court Judge Brian Privett issued a temporary restraining order baring the governor from enforcing his coronavirus-related executive orders with respect to about 500 agricultural related businesses. The order also says that Beshear must follow certain procedural steps in issuing or enforcing any executive orders.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles brought the lawsuit challenging Beshear’s authority in tandem with a Scott County business, and Attorney General Daniel Cameron later joined their challenge. Cameron and Quarles are possible Republican challengers to Beshear, a Democrat, in the next gubernatorial election in 2023.
Cameron said Thursday that the ruling is "a clear win for the rule of law and will help Kentucky families and businesses across the Commonwealth who have suffered and continue to suffer financial losses and economic hardship because of the Governor’s executive orders.”
Beshear said he will appeal the Scott County judge’s order, which he said would exempt distilleries, farmer’s markets and other public-facing businesses from all COVID-19 restrictions.
"We’ll beat 'em in court, and just because the circuit judge there thinks he’s an epidemiologist and we don’t need any type of restrictions, I know that’s not the case," Beshear said.
In response to Beshear's announcement of the mask mandate, a letter signed by Cameron, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne called the order "arbitrary and overbroad."
Citing Privett's ruling, Cameron, Stivers and Osborne say Beshear's pandemic measures have "repeatedly violated the Constitution and the laws of this Commonwealth."
"As you say, we are all in this together," the letter says. "We trust the citizens of this Commonwealth to make responsible decision to protect themselves and their neighbors. As the chief leaders of the Kentucky General Assembly and the chief law officer of this Commonwealth, we ask that you do the same."