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Beshear Revises Travel Restrictions After Judge Strikes Down Initial Order

Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.
Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.

Gov. Andy Beshear has revised his ban on traveling to Kentucky during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge temporarily blocked it earlier this week.

Beshear’s new order still requires people to quarantine for 14 days when they come to Kentucky unless traveling for work, visiting a doctor, getting groceries and other exceptions. But the new order adds a new exception for people traveling as part of their normal lives living in one state and working in another.

Beshear said the new order aligns with travel restrictions imposed in Ohio, which have been upheld by courts.

“What we have to make sure right now, with this virus not being gone, is somebody cannot travel from one of the hotspots -- Philadelphia, Boston, or others right now -- coming into an area and continuing to spread infections,” he said. “It's the same reasons as before, we're doing a lot better inside Kentucky.”

U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman struck down Beshear’s initial travel ban on Monday, saying that the right to travel from one state to another is “firmly embedded” in the Constitution. But the judge left the door open for Beshear to come up with a new order, noting how Ohio allows people to travel into the state for less than 24 hours without a quarantine.

Beshear also announced that the Kentucky National Guard dressed in civilian clothes will likely staff polling locations during the state’s June 23 primary elections.

Though all Kentuckians will be able to vote by mail to help reduce crowds during the pandemic and the state will have fewer polling locations open across the state, Beshear said the effort would protect the state’s poll workers, many of whom are elderly.

“Before anybody thinks that this is big government in any way, this is your neighbor,” Beshear said. “This is your neighbor who is volunteering and is ready to help us in this election.”

Beshear also announced that he hopes to allow restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to partially reopen during phase 2 of Kentucky’s reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, which he said might take place in June.

The first phase of the state’s reopening will take place on Monday, when non-essential businesses in construction, manufacturing, professional services, car and boat sales and horse racing tracks — without fans — will be able to reopen.

Beshear said he would provide more details of phase 2 on Friday.

There were 159 coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Wednesday, for a total of 5,934. A total of 283 people have died from the virus in the state.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor of Kentucky Public Radio. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.

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