Ky. Restaurant Association president says they didn’t anticipate new restrictions would be so severe

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 10:59 AM EST
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced new restrictions on Wednesday to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

One of those restrictions impacts Kentucky’s restaurants. Starting this Friday at 5 p.m., restaurants and bars will be forced to close indoor dining.

He said studies have proven that COVID-19 is widely spread in businesses where people are eating and drinking without masks on.

Stacy Roof, the president of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, says they knew there would be additional restrictions coming, but they didn’t anticipate they would be this severe. Now, their members have to navigate three weeks of closed dining rooms.

That new mandate prohibits dine-in service at Kentucky’s restaurants and bars. They are still able to do carry out, delivery, and outdoor dining. Roof says that helps, but, with winter coming, they can’t plan on that option.

“That’s just a big gift right now. We can’t count on that. It’s very hard for them to know how to order food or schedule staff,” Roof said.

Governor Beshear cited a CDC report that restaurants were contributing to the spread of COVID.

Roof said they have been asking to see Kentucky specific data that would back that up.

The state has set up a fund that gives restaurants $10,000 to help with the shutdown. She said it’s better than nothing, but, for some restaurants, that’s the equivalent of a good weekend.

She said if these businesses are going to survive they’ll need help on the federal level.

“We’re really looking at Congress to take action and come up with that next relief package that has to happen,” Roof said. “They said they would get to work immediately after elections and you know we have leaders from Kentucky that are in the position to get moving on that, and I hope that they seize the moment and do that.”

Roof said the KRA estimated 20 percent of Kentucky’s restaurants would close permanently because of the pandemic. She said these measures might expedite that.

One thing the public can do to help is to buy gift cards but plan to use them sometime next year. That’ll give restaurants cash they can use now, to weather these next few weeks.

Roof said they had proposed an aid system for restaurants based on how much profit they’ve lost, so the money they received would depend on how much they have lost.

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