Gov. Beshear lifts some capacity restrictions, but restaurant owners say it’s not quite enough

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 9:59 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As Kentucky works toward a goal of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Andy Beshear is easing some restrictions with roughly 650,000 vaccine to go.

Effective May 28, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, indoor venues and businesses with 1,000 people or less can operate at 75% capacity. Venues with over 1,000 can operate at 60%.

“We may look busy, but we’re not busy,” said Clay Burke, the manager of the Merrick Inn.

Operating at limited capacity and maintaining distance between tables has proved challenging for the restaurant as they try to get creative to serve as many as they can, just to survive.

“The thought of closing for good has been on the back of our minds for over a year. And we’ve gotten close,” Clay said.

Burke says the new capacity limit won’t be of any help as long as distance requirements are still enforced.

“When you still have to maintain so much footage between tables, you can do 100%, but still looks like 50%,” Clay said.

The governor says the lifting of all restrictions is coming, and could be just a couple months away.

“The CDC is now projecting a sharp decline in COVID cases in the US by July. Listen, I hope that we’ll be fully done with any capacity restrictions in all by July. That’s actually my expectation,” Beshear said.

It’s an expectation Clay hopes comes to fruition for an industry that’s scraping to get by, and doesn’t know how much longer they have to hold on.

“The day is coming. It has to. We know that. We don’t know what’s going to be that day, we assume we know what’s going to be the year,” Clay said.

The restaurant says, like many businesses, they’ve also had trouble hiring people. They say they’ve gotten many bad reviews from customers because of struggles with capacity restrictions and staffing shortages.

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