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The Kentucky Association of Counties

Covid-19 Newsroom

Gov. Beshear Outlines 7 Benchmarks to Reopen Commonwealth’s Economy

Gov. Andy Beshear releases plans for how and when to reopen the economy.


Contact Crystal Staley or Sebastian Kitchen: 502-564-2611

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 17, 2020) – On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear discussed benchmarks that the commonwealth must meet in order to start reopening the state’s economy while keeping Kentuckians safe from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The steps reflect federal guidance announced Thursday by the White House.

“We believe our approach is very much in line with the White House. The plan put out by the White House has certain thresholds that states should meet before we start taking certain steps,” Gov. Beshear said. “The benchmarks are being driven by public health. We are all on the same page about what keeps people safe.”

The Governor acknowledged Kentuckians' sacrifices and said we must all stay resilient as we work our way out of this.

“We have to make sure we do it smart, we do it safely,” he said. “That we don’t let our guard down, that we don’t start focusing on the next game until we win this game.”

Gov. Beshear said that the state’s seven benchmarks to be assessed will determine the phases for reopening parts of the economy.

Benchmark criteria for Kentucky to move to the first stage:

  • 14 days where cases are decreasing
  • Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability
  • Ability to protect at-risk populations
  • Ability to social distance and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on large gatherings
  • Preparedness for possible future spike
  • Status of vaccine and treatment

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health said, “Normal going forward is not the same as normal going into this. When we start lifting restrictions, I want to be very clear, there will be more disease. More people will get infected. There is a counterbalancing need with people’s need to go on with life and people’s need to remain safe. We have recognized that all along.”

Once Kentucky meets certain first stage benchmarks, the White House provided guidance on what the first stage of reopening could like, which could include:

Guidance for the first stage of reopening


  • Individuals should continue to practice good hygiene
  • People who feel sick should stay home
  • All vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place
  • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others
  • All individuals should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, unless precautionary measures can be strictly observed
  • Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel


  • Should continue to encourage telework
  • If possible, should return to work in phases
  • Close common areas
  • Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel
  • Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population

Specific types of employers

  • Schools and organized youth activities that are currently closed should remain closed
  • Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should still be prohibited
  • Large venues (sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols
  • Elective surgeries can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines
  • Gyms can reopen if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Bars should remain closed

For more information on the White House’s criteria and all three proposed phases of reopening, visit

The Governor reminded Kentuckians how important it is to stay fluid and flexible based on the severity and number of cases in the state and the status of a vaccine and treatment options.

“We think that following these benchmarks, possibly before May we could see some loosening in the health care area,” Gov. Beshear said. “We could see the ability to open up in some small ways before May, during May and beyond, but this will be a phased approach based on our benchmarks and recommendations from many groups. We have to ensure any actions we take protect the sacrifices that so many Kentuckians have made.”