FRANKFORT, KY — Restaurants, movie theaters and more than a dozen other sectors in Kentucky will be able to increase their customer capacity by 10% starting Friday. 

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the COVID-19 guidance change during a briefing Monday afternoon. The governor said this "incremental relief for businesses" comes after the state has continued to see a significant drop in cases and the test positivity rate. 

Beshear said Kentucky gave tens of thousands more COVID-19 tests last week than it gave the week before — when the state was faced with dangerous snow and ice from winter storms — but still had fewer cases than the week before. "That shows very clearly we are on a downward trajectory," Beshear said. 

“From our high point on Jan. 12, our cases have now fallen 72% over the past seven weeks," Beshear said, adding that the state's positivity rate is trending downward as well. "These are numbers we haven't seen in months," Beshear said. He also noted that COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to drop, saying hospitals across the state have the capacity to help people who are sick. 

The governor also pointed to the Food and Drug Administrations's emergency use authorization this weekend of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and its recommendation by the CDC, and that the availability of doses of other COVID-19 vaccines is expected to continue to increase moving forward. 

The 10% increase in capacity limits will put the eligible businesses at a possible maximum capacity of 60%. 

Those businesses include: 

  • Indoor auctions 
  • Barbershops/hair salons/cosmetology
  • Bars and restaurants 
  • Bowling alleys 
  • Indoor educational and cultural activities 
  • Fitness Centers 
  • Funeral and memorial services 
  • Government offices and agencies 
  • Massage therapy 
  • Movie theaters 
  • Nail salons
  • Office-based businesses
  • Retailers 
  • Tanning salons 
  • Tattoo parlors 
  • Vehicle and vessel dealerships 

The change also includes churches. Beshear noted that the capacity limit is merely a recommendation for places of worship, but it is a requirement for businesses. 

The governor said that capacity increase is only allowed at businesses that can do so while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing among people within the business. The state's mask mandate remains in place as well. 

Beshear also announced that child care businesses will be able to increase their capacity to their regular group sizes on March 15. He said that change is being delayed until then to give child care workers time to get vaccinated. 

Providing his daily update on the virus, Beshear said 509 new cases were reported Monday, the lowest one-day report since Sept. 28. Monday's positivity rate for COVID-19 test results is 4.84%, the lowest since Oct. 18. Beshear also noted that only 25 Kentucky counties are in the COVID-19 red zone, "when for the longest time we had 120, week after week after week." 

The governor reported 15 additional virus-related deaths Monday. 

To date, Kentucky has had 405,126 total known COVID-19 cases, including 4,652 known virus-related deaths.