Everything you need to know about Kentucky’s new mask requirement


HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – On Thursday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order mandating masks in all public places across the state. Here’s what you need to know about the new requirement.

Who has to wear a mask?

  • Everyone over the age of five years old is required to wear a face mask or face covering. Exceptions will be made for those who have a medically documented condition stating they cannot wear a mask or other certain situations (see full exemptions list below). Children over the age of five years old are required to wear masks.

Where do you have to wear a mask?

  • Masks are required in all public places in Kentucky including a retail store, grocery store, pharmacy, hair salon/barbershop, nail salon/spa, tattoo parlor, child care facility, restaurant or bar, health care setting, or any other indoor space. In restaurants and bars, masks must be worn to enter and exit or while waiting/gathering in common areas but may be removed while eating or drinking if the person remains seated.
  • Masks must be worn in outdoor public spaces if social distancing of at least six feet can not be enforced with people not in your own household.
  • While waiting for or riding on public transportation or while riding in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle such as Uber or Lyft.

Do you have to wear a mask outdoors?

  • Masks are required outdoors only when social distancing of at least six feet cannot be enforced with someone not in your household.
  • Any person who is in a swimming pool, lake or other body of water is also exempt from the order. Additionally, any person participating in athletic practice, scrimmage or competition is exempt from wearing a mask.

What happens if I don’t wear a mask?

  • Masks are required to enter all businesses and a person will not be allowed to enter without first putting on a mask. If a person is seen without a mask inside a business, the person will be asked to put one on or leave the premises. People who repeatedly refuse to wear a mask could be fined.

What happens to businesses if they don’t enforce the mask mandate?

  • Businesses are required to enforce the mask mandate at all times. Businesses that do not require masks will be contacted by the local or state health departments. Businesses will first be issued a warning. If businesses do not comply with the warning, they will be fined or shut down.

How can I report non-compliance?

  • To report non-compliance you may contact your local health department or issue a complaint with the state here.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. There are plenty of exceptions. The following are exempt from wearing face coverings, according to the governor’s order:

  • Children who are age 5 or younger.
  • Any person with a disability or physical mental impairment that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering.
  • Any person who is hearing impaired or is communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.
  • Any person engaged in work that a state or federal regulator has concluded would make a face covering a health risk to their health or safety.
  • Any person who is obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of a face covering in order to perform the service (like teeth cleaning).
  • Any person who is required to temporarily remove their face covering to confirm their identity.
  • Any person who is giving a speech or broadcast to an audience and is unable to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from all individuals.
  • Any person who is engaged in a lawful activity where federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering.

When does the mask mandate start and how long does it last?

  • The mask requirement begins on Friday, July 10th at 5 pm ET (4 pm CT). The mandate initially lasts for 30 days.

Why are masks required?

  • Beshear said the increased case counts from the last few days along with an “explosion” in other states prompted him to issue the executive order. Kentucky has seen the highest increase in cases over the past two days than any other time during the pandemic. He says he hopes implementing this measure early prevents the uncontrollable surge seen in other states such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

“Putting in a mandatory mask rule, if we were still plateaued, that was going to be something that was going to be harder for people to accept.” Beshear said. “We know we have got to do it with the way things are going.”

  • According to a statement from the state’s health department, “wearing face coverings not only protects others, it also lowers the infection risk for those wearing masks by 65%. The Governor also pointed to analysis from Goldman Sachs showing that if everyone in America was required to wear face coverings in public, it could save the U.S. economy from losing 5% of the Gross Domestic Product. Gov. Beshear noted that 5% of Kentucky’s Gross State Product alone is $10.4 billion. So far, 22 states have implemented some sort of order mandating face coverings, although details vary.

Do I have to wear a mask in other states?

  • As of Thursday, 22 other states have implemented a mask mandate. Currently, Indiana does not have a state-wide mask mandate but does recommend all people wear masks.
  • Illinois is one of the states that has issued a mask mandate.
  • The city of Evansville is currently considering its own city-wide mask mandate.

Still have questions? Here’s more guidance about masks:


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(This story was originally published on July 10, 2020)


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