On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order requiring Kentuckians to wear a mask whenever out in public. The order is a polarizing one, drawing both criticism and support from Beshear’s constituents and other state government officials. The Times-Tribune created a poll on our website, www.thetimestribune.com, for our readers to chime in on the Governor’s new executive order.
55.3% of poll-respondents answered yes, that they would comply with the executive order.
“Yes,” Naomi Logan commented on Facebook. “Not because I am told, because I have rights to protect the people I love, and America. This is for the life of others. They have said time and again it is to protect others.”
Diana Fields wrote that she would wear a mask out of respect.
“I have been out of respect,” Field explained in her comment. “I’m not in best of health, and I take care of my mother who is 90. No way would I take a chance of bringing anything in on her.”
“Yes,” wrote Amy Taylor. “[Because] it’s not all about me, and it absolutely hurts nothing in my situation.
According to the Governor’s office, the new order, “requires Kentuckians to wear face coverings under several circumstances for the next 30 days. The order will be evaluated during that time to determine any additional steps or extension.”
The order states that face coverings will be required while inside retail establishment: grocery store, pharmacy, hair salon/barbershop, nail salon/spa, tattoo parlor, child care facility, restaurant or bar (when not seated and consuming food or beverage), health care setting, or any other indoor public space in which it is difficult to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from all individuals who are not members of that person’s household.
The mask mandate also applies while in outdoor public spaces in which one cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet from all individuals who are not members of their household and while riding public transportation or while carpooling.
30% of respondents to the Times-Tribune’s poll said they would not comply with Beshear’s executive order.
“No, I’m not going to wear one, haven’t the whole time, and sure not going to start now,” wrote Steven Powell. “It’s a bunch of nonsense.”
“My constitutional right to say no,” commented Daniel Barton of London. “Sorry Andy needs taken outta there. Has no sense that God gave a goose.”
6.7% of respondents to our online poll said they would take their business elsewhere if forced to where a mask.
“Any business that demands a mask, I’ll shop elsewhere,” Aaron Stevens of Corbin wrote.
Michelle Duncum wrote that she wouldn’t wear a mask while on her own personal property because she doesn’t believe there is any benefit to her or others around her for wearing one. However, Duncum did say that she would wear when forced to by a business.
“If you have to wear one to go inside somewhere, well that’s the store owner’s option,” wrote Duncum. “Therefore, if I wish to shop there I will have to wear my mask, same as I have to wear shoes or what-not.”
The order states that, “Failure to follow the requirements provided in this Order and any other Executive Order and any Cabinet Order… is a violation of the Order issued under KRS Chapter 39A and must result in a loss of access to a business’s services.”
“I'll just do my shopping online,” commented Destiny Baker of Corbin.
Another 6.7% of poll participants said they would choose to stay home, while 1.3% chose "other".
“I will wear a mask,” Melody Powers Lewis of Corbin commented. “I have been staying home, but when I absolutely have to go out, I wear a mask. People act like it’s the Governor’s fault we are having to wear one. News flash here, it’s not just Kentucky mandating it,” she went on. “And maybe, just maybe, if people could stay out of Walmart, we might not be in this shape. Stay home people if you don’t want to wear a mask.”
A joint Facebook profile for Shawna and Donnie Lawson wrote, “No, where is the legislature that makes it a law? Please remember, it is not a law without the vote in legislation. It is our right as citizens to choose.”
“You can't smoke in public places, because your freedom to expose yourself to carcinogens does not give you the right to expose and take away another's freedom of choosing not to smoke,” wrote Tammy Woods of Corbin. “Being mandated to wear a mask is no different.”
Beshear’s executive order comes on the heels of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announcing that a Scott County Circuit Judge ordered the Governor to cease issuing or enforcing executive orders related to COVID-19 unless the orders meet specific criteria for an emergency as outlined by state law.
The lawsuit was originally filed by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, LLC out of Georgetown.
“The Governor cannot issue broad, arbitrary executive orders apart from the requirements of state law and the Judge agreed by today issuing a statewide temporary restraining order,” said Attorney General Cameron. “This is a clear win for the rule of law and will help Kentucky families and businesses across the Commonwealth who have suffered and continue to suffer financial losses and economic hardship because of the Governor’s executive orders.”
Attorney General Cemeron also filed a motion on Friday in Scott Circuit Court asking the Judge to consider whether requiring face coverings complies with the current temporary restraining order stopping enforcement of COVID-19 executive orders that are not in compliance with state law.
"Had the Governor consulted with our office and the leadership of the General Assembly on his order prior to its issuance, this step would have been unnecessary," Cameron said in a press release. "The Governor has refused input on his executive orders, despite offers of assistance. This pattern has led to numerous challenges in court, all of which he has lost.
"To be clear, the request we are making to the court today is not about whether or not it is appropriate to wear a mask," he added. "It is my belief that masks are an important tool in fighting this pandemic. It is, however, about determining if the Governor’s executive order mandating mask use follows state law. As the chief law officer for the Commonwealth, it is my duty to raise this question before the court and ensure that the law is followed.”
Exemptions to the order include children who are 5 or younger and any person with a disability, or a physical or mental impairment, that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering.
Beshear’s order encourages all local, county, and city government offices and agencies to adopt or incorporate the requirements provided within it.
“This should have been under control months ago,” commented Deborah Angel. “This is absolutely ridiculous, and I will wear my mask out of respect for the ones who are in jeopardy, but it will be known as a free American, I am honestly ashamed of our country for letting so many die,” she continued. “I choose to wear mine, not because the state wants to strip me of my rights and demand us all because they don't have control of the situation.”
“I’m torn,” said Johnathan Watkins of Gray. “Yeah, masks are the key to getting rid of this virus. But I don't like the government telling people what to do. This goes for a lot more than just masks.”