Governor Spars With Attorney General On Executive Orders
Darren Doyle, story:
Governor Andy Beshear announced today in a press conference that he has signed an executive order requiring masks or face coverings in public.
"Today I've signed an executive order that is starting tomorrow at 5pm, I'm going to mandate that Kentuckians in public and certain situations must wear a facial covering or mask," he said. "What this means is, all customers in retail facilities must wear a mask. In grocery stores, must wear a mask. Most forward-facing businesses, must wear a mask. If you are indoors and you can't get 6 feet from individuals on anything that's not covered, must wear a mask. And outside, if you cannot be six-feet away from another individual, you must wear a mask."
Beshear said this order will run for a minimum of 30 days.
"I want to see how well we can do in 30 days," he said. "It's going to be enforced by local health departments and others, and it's going to be as simple as if someone won't wear a mask in your place of business, then they cannot be served. It's that simple."
He said the plan is to continue to have restaurants open at 50% capacity as well as retail stores.
"I believe we can keep the things that we've opened up, open, and if we do it, I think we've got a shot at sports that other states are worried about right now. But it's on us. It's on us. It's really going to come down to whether we have personal pride or we have some belief that we have liberty to spread this thing to others, and therefore shouldn't have to wear something like this. It's all going to come down to whether we're willing to do it. Whether we truly care about each other and our economy."
He said he guessed those not wanting to wear masks would be about 20% of the people; however, many we've heard from locally are strongly against mandating masks.
"Honestly, folks, wearing a mask in a worldwide pandemic makes a lot of sense," he said. "And is it too much to ask? I don't think so."
Beshear also discussed some exceptions that would be allowed where certain people wouldn't be required to wear masks, which included children under the age of 5, if you are alone in a single room, with your household members in your own home, exercising six feet away from others, or have medical issues or other breathing issues that would prohibit your safety further by wearing one.
Beshear reported 333 new cases in Kentucky since yesterday with 4 new deaths reported from coronavirus.
This news comes in sharp contrast of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's announcement today where a Scott Circuit Judge ordered the Governor to cease issuing or enforcing executive orders related to COVID-19 unless the orders meet specific criteria for an emergency as outlined by state law. The Judge stated that, in order to issue and enforce executive orders related to COVID-19, the Governor must specify the state of emergency that requires the executive order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities.
“The Governor cannot issue broad, arbitrary executive orders apart from the requirements of state law, and the Judge agreed by today issuing a statewide temporary restraining order,” said Attorney General Cameron. “This 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.”
Attorney General Cameron joined the lawsuit last week, which challenges Governor Beshear’s use of executive power during the COVID-19 pandemic and was filed by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, LLC, an agritourism business in Georgetown. Evans Orchard instituted new public health guidelines and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Governor Beshear’s executive orders, including requiring employees to wear masks, sanitation protocols for the facility, and reduced capacity to comply with social distancing. In one instance, Evans Orchard was told by the local health department that they could not allow more than 10 individuals at a time into the business’s 96,000 square foot attraction.
According to a press release from AG Cameron's office, the temporary restraining order issued by the Judge today also stops the enforcement of the Governor’s executive orders as they apply to Kentucky’s 548 agritourism businesses.
Beshear was asked about the ruling and he commented on the temporary restraining order.
"They basically ruled that over 500 businesses in Kentucky don't have to follow any rules whatsoever," said Beshear on the ruling.
Beshear said those businesses would include farmer's markers, distilleries, and an expo center.
"This is dangerous and devastating and for a court to say 'I guess I just don't believe that the virus exists and you don't have to do anything--no social distancing, nothing else?' is absolutely irresponsible.
Beshear also said that his office was sending the order to court of the appeals and the supreme court.
"This shouldn't be political, and it all seems to be," he said. "The AG in Kentucky is the only AG in the country that's suing the governor over these restrictions and we gotta move past it. I'm gonna continue to do what it takes, he put in that order today, and we're doing the mask mandate today. We'll beat him in court. Just because the circuit judge there thinks he's an epidemiologist, we don't need any types of restrictions, and I know that's not the case."
To view a copy of the order, click here.