Ky. business owners have mixed reviews on ability to increase to 60% capacity Friday

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -Starting Friday, some Kentucky businesses will be allowed to have more people inside its doors.

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a move to 60% capacity, from 50%. The change applies to restaurants, movie theaters, salons, gyms, bars and more.

Business owners have mixed reviews on the new capacity regulations.

“There’s a little bit of joy and positivity that we’re loosening up a little bit,” said Sean Ebbitt, owner of Bluegrass Tavern.

The added capacity comes with rules.

“While maintaining the six foot distancing or attempting to, for a lot of businesses that won’t really allow them to increase their capacity much,” Ebbitt said.

While vaccinations continue to roll out, public health officials are warning against loosening restrictions now, with more variants causing illness across the country.

“If you dine with us, we want you to feel safe and comfortable. We are hoping to continue to expand, but we’re doing the best with what we have right now. This is a restaurant that hasn’t experienced life outside the pandemic,” said Brie Lowry Cox, the marketing director for ItalX.

Ebbitt said he believes the state’s heading in the right direction. But, he said he’s not sure how much an impact this change will have.

“Last call is at 11:00. I would probably say most bar and restaurant people would prefer that would increase, rather than the capacity,” Ebbitt said.

Across the street at ItalX, more tables are being set.

“We also have started booking a little semi-private space that can take large parties. We are just now starting to accept parties, but still the maximum is 10,” Lowry Cox said.

She said it’s hard for staff to turn people away.

“We want to be able to welcome everybody that walks through the doors, but we just haven’t been able to because of the capacity restrictions,” Lowry Cox said.

While Friday’s new rules allow for more dinner reservations, Ebbitt wonders when he’ll get his peak business hours back.

“At least just set goals for us, so we can all watch it and say ‘hey. looks like we’re going to get another half hour soon,’” Ebbitt said.

They’re both waiting for the day they can reach 100% capacity again. But for now, they’re settling with 60.

“I don’t know how they got there, but we trust the people that are making the decisions and we just follow suit,” Lowry Cox said.

Beshear warned that he’ll have to go back to tighter restrictions if cases climb again.

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