‘I was so excited’: Middlesboro officials react to lifting of COVID-19 restrictions

Officials say locally-owned shops and boutiques have been affected most
Officials say locally-owned shops and boutiques have been affected most(Cory Sanning/WYMT)
Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 7:44 PM EDT
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BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A long-awaited weekend has finally arrived as Kentuckians can take off masks as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on Friday.

“I was so excited. I’m fairly new to Middlesboro so I was excited to finally see faces instead of just your eyes, I can see all the faces so that was exciting news,” Middlesboro Main Street Executive Director Joanie Beaver said.

The move left city officials and local business owners breathing a sigh of relief.

“People feel more comfortable to go out, to participate in outdoor activities, but to go indoors to these businesses who have been really yearning for everybody to come back for quite a while,” Beaver said.

Beaver said that the Middlesboro area has been vastly affected by the pandemic, particularly locally-owned businesses that rely on in-person customer interaction.

“Restaurants have kind of opened back up with outdoor seating and things but the more businesses that require you to come in to shop like the boutiques and things like that,” Beaver said. “It’s been very, it’s been very difficult on them.”

Now that they have reached the light at the end of the tunnel, Beaver is excited for what is to come.

“My position is to encourage businesses and to see businesses kind of struggling and people just kind of getting down-hearted,” Beaver said. “This right now is a ray of sunshine for them and so of course that makes me happy.”

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