LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentuckians can take off the masks at outdoor events of 1,000 or less.

The new rules mean outdoor venues such as Whitehall can, literally, breathe easier as they slowly return to normal.

Whitehall Mansion and Gardens has been hosting weddings and other smaller outdoor events in Louisville for 27 years.

Associate Director Carol Grisanti said it struggled early in the pandemic as events were canceled, but Whitehall survived.

“We would just kind of go with the flow and whatever the recommendations were by the governor, that's what we accommodated,” she said.

Now, guests will no longer have to accommodate masks after Beshear lifted the mandate for smaller scale events.

“It means if you are at a backyard barbecue, if you're at your community pool, if you are at an outdoor wedding, especially if you are vaccinated, you are not required to wear a mask,” said Beshear during his coronavirus briefing on Monday.

Grisanti said the impact at Whitehall will be peace of mind for guests.

“It frees them up to feel like they can enjoy themselves without having to wear a mask,” she said.

The easing of the mask mandate is also a breath of fresh air for Waterfront Park.

“We know how much our guests have missed our special events,” said Ashley Smith, director of development for the Waterfront Development Corporation.

The new rules signal new opportunities to book events and bring in badly needed revenue.

“I think, more so than the patrons visiting events, I think it's the event promoters who now have a level of comfort that they will be able to execute an event in a manageable way,” Smith said.

Beshear stressed that the mask mandate is still in effect for outdoor events of more than 1,000 and indoor spaces such as the workplace, retail and grocery stores.

He said the sooner more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, the sooner other restrictions will be eased.

But, there is no masking the optimism that the easing of restrictions means the virus may finally be easing its grip.

“Bottom line, this is positive,” said Smith. “We are coming out of this as a community together.”

“Everybody is looking for brighter days now,” Grisanti said.

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