LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A state appeals judge on Monday dismissed efforts by Gov. Andy Beshear to overturn two lower court rulings concerning COVID-19 emergency orders.
Judge Glenn Acree upheld two lower court rulings that said the governor could not limit crowd sizes at Florence Speedway, class sizes at day cares or the number of people at “pick-your-own” family farms and event centers.
The judge said he was not expressing an opinion as to the merits of Beshear’s claims on the lower court rulings, saying a three-judge panel of the Appeals Court could decide that.
The ruling does not affect a separate order by Beshear on Thursday mandating Kentuckians to wear face masks in public places where people gather. Attorney General Daniel Cameron has challenged that order, which went into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley said the judge’s decision will increase the cases of COVID-19 in the state.
“When the United States is seeing record numbers of positive COVID-19 cases every day, and states like Texas have multiple reports from childcare facilities of staff and children sick with the virus, now is not the time to ignore guidance from health care experts,” she said in a statement from Beshear’s office.
“Right now, 500-plus businesses can operate without any safety requirements, including even handwashing, and daycares can decide to have class sizes that are not safe. Kentucky is already experiencing increasing cases and this ruling means we will see more spread of the virus.”
Acree combined the two separate circuit court decisions in his ruling because Beshear’s request opposing them presented the same issues with the same problems. The cases involve rulings by Boone Circuit Judge Richard A. Bruegemann and Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett.
“Kentuckians have taken measures they believe must be taken to protect themselves, those they know and love and those they are yet to meet,” Acree wrote in his opinion. “And by their innate wisdom and common sense, they succeeded in keeping Kentucky ranked among states with the lowest per capita incidence of coronavirus.”
Kentucky has surpassed 600 deaths and 20,000 cases of coronavirus, according to the latest reports from the health department.