What Employers Need To Know About Kentucky’s New COVID-19 Restaurant Restrictions

Fisher Phillips
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Fisher Phillips

As the pandemic rages through Kentucky and the holidays right around the corner, Governor Beshear just issued an executive order mandating significant restrictions on businesses to slow down the escalating spread of COVID-19 – with restaurants and bars being one of the hardest-hit industries. However, the order contains a financial path forward for businesses impacted by the new round of closures. What do Kentucky hospitality employers need to know about these new developments?

Restaurants Receive Financial Reprieve With Restrictions

Effective at 5:00 pm this Friday, November 20, and extending through December 13, all indoor dining or drink services are prohibited. Carryout, delivery, and outdoor dining services will be allowed. Beshear, however, warned that non-compliance with current guidelines and overcrowded outdoor dining will result in further restrictions.

In an effort to ease the significant financial burden on bars and restaurants, the governor’s office has established $40 million in CARES Act funding for eligible businesses. Businesses can receive up to $10,000, or a maximum of $20,000 if they have multiple locations, to help them through these difficult times. 

Businesses that derive over 50% of their pre-pandemic business through drive-thru sales will not be eligible. The governor’s office emphasized that the focus is alleviating the financial burdens for locally owned businesses, so businesses owned by publicly traded companies are not eligible for the funds. Applications are scheduled to open November 30 and close on December 18. Funds will be awarded until they are exhausted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Details on applications are forthcoming.

Businesses that receive these funds will be required to remain in compliance with all public health orders. This includes limiting the table size of patrons to a maximum of eight people from a maximum of two households. 

Conclusion

For months, restaurants and bars have been operating at 50% capacity and been subject to a statewide curfew to limit hours of operation. In late October, Beshear tried to avoid these additional restrictions by issuing “red zone recommendations” which were a non-mandated set of guidelines for counties in the “red zone.” These recommendations called for the public to avoid indoor dining and encouraged takeout or delivery. Unfortunately, these were not effective and Beshear noted the significant role that he believes restaurants and bars have played in the spread of the virus in Kentucky.

These are temporary restrictions and will likely change depending on the number of cases we see reported in the coming weeks.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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