FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow some non-essential retail businesses to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, as long as those businesses can follow proper CDC guidelines and social distancing measures.
Lawmakers did not have a bill filed Tuesday evening but House Speaker David Osborne said the proposal would allow a licensing board to identify what certain non-essential businesses can do to still operate safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are at a point where we need to at least begin talking about the difference between essential and non-essential and transition to more safe and non-safe (businesses),” Osborne said.
Gov. Andy Beshear said lawmakers aren’t in a place to decide when businesses should be able to reopen because they aren’t actively monitoring the situation like he is.
“We’ve been at this. We’ve been doing this. We have been flattening the curve,” Beshear said. “So it’s who do you trust on how and when we reopen things: Do you trust the governor, led by the Department of Public Health and all of our medical officials? Or do you trust the legislature and lobbyists that are talking to them each day based on monetary interests that are out there? I don’t think that that’s a hard decision.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican Party criticized Gov. Beshear and said he doesn’t have a recovery plan in place.
“I know folks are antsy, but we want to do this right,” Beshear said. “If we open up too early… people die as a result.”
Osborne said the bill would not automatically open businesses, but would at least start conversations about how to gradually restart the economy.
“Every downtown, you see the closed signs. We’re not going to just be able to flip those signs to open, but this does begin the process of allowing safe protocols to be followed in certain circumstances,” Osborne said.
Lawmakers meet again Wednesday for the final day of the legislative session.