How Kentucky’s COVID restrictions are enforced -- without law enforcement

With a growing list of restaurants vowing to start allowing indoor dining again regardless of Beshear's orders, health inspectors may become busy.
Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 8:01 PM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There are 37 health inspectors at Louisville Metro’s health department tasked to carry out the enforcement of Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Many restaurant owners have called the separate set of restrictions placed on them arbitrary and unfair. Nearly3,000 people in the restaurant industry have now signed a petition vowing to open in-door dining on Dec. 14 if that restriction isn’t lifted.

When it comes to enforcement, if more businesses decide to defy the rules, Shepherdsville Police Chief Rick McCubbin said to count his officers out.

“We’re not going to go in and cite or arrest anybody, in their home, at a business, a business owner,” McCubbin told WAVE 3 News. “We’re not doing it.”

McCubbin said his officers will focus on crime and responding to people with emergencies. He knows how he’ll respond if asked by the governor to help enforce the restrictions.

“If we get to it, we’ll get to it,” McCubbin said, “but we’re not going to get to it.”

With a growing list of restaurants vowing to start allowing indoor dining again regardless of Beshear’s orders, McCubbin says health inspectors may get very busy.

“If someone has an issue with it, they can call the governor’s office,” McCubbin said.

His officers will respond to potential criminal matters related to the restrictions, like a patron who is refusing to wear his mask even though the restaurant is asking them to, for example.

The governor has used law enforcement for COVID enforcement before, like Kentucky State Police officers at the Maryville Baptist Church who were tasked with writing down the license plates of people going in.

The Louisville Health Department told WAVE 3 News they are serious about restaurants sticking to the rules.

“They are at risk for losing their food and beverage license,” Dr. Sarah Moyer said.

So far, the Louisville Health Department has reportedly conducted 543 investigations, surveilled 645 businesses and since November first, and have issued 160 corrective orders. They confirmed to WAVE 3 News they get help from other agencies, like the Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Codes and Regulations, and even the Louisville Metro Police Department, though officers have not been tapped to conduct any of that work yet.

Moyer said she hopes the number of coronavirus cases in Louisville is down enough by Dec. 14 in order to re-open indoor dining.

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