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Northern Kentucky restaurant won't close indoor dining room despite soaring cases, governor's order

'Please, Frankfort, you don’t need to tell everybody what they must and must not do'
Beans Cafe and Bakery in Dry
Posted at 5:41 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 18:33:03-05

DRY RIDGE, Ky. — Beans Cafe and Bakery in Dry Ridge will keep its dining room open, defying Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's order requiring all restaurants close indoor facilities and shift to carry-out only starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

“To think of what we have given up in the past year, it’s astounding,” owner Richard Hayhoe said Friday. “Not one of us would ever say we would be where we are today a year ago. And yet, here we are.”

Hayhoe said the rules and restrictions for individuals and businesses related to COVID-19 are too much. He said he’s keeping his restaurant’s dining room open because he wants his customers to make up their own mind about whether they want to eat a sit-down meal or go through the drive-thru.

“Do what is best for you and your family and your situation,” Hayhoe said. “Please, Frankfort, you don’t need to tell everybody what they must and must not do.”

Gov. Beshear on Wednesday announced several new requirements for restaurants, including that they stop serving customers inside their dining rooms. Instead, they can use outdoor seating, take-out and drive-thru services. He also announced $40 million dollars of CARES act funding to help assist restaurants during the restrictions.

Beshear said his order was not a shutdown but “surgical and targeted steps” necessary to to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

The order went into effect Friday and lasts through Dec. 13, but Hayhoe said he will keep his cafe and bakery open to diners now through the holidays. He said he wants to see the Kentucky legislature more involved in decisions about COVID-19 restrictions that he doesn’t think are fair to businesses or the public.

“That’s a scary direction,” he said. “I don’t know where that’s taking us next, but I’m not a criminal today. Hopefully, I’m still not a criminal tomorrow.”

WCPO reached out to the Northern Kentucky Health Department about Beans Cafe and Bakery’s plan to keep its dining room open.

The department did not address the restaurant’s decision directly but said it was waiting for more detailed guidance from the governor’s office on how to handle enforcement.

“The Governor's Emergency Executive Orders to reduce the spread of COVID have the standing of law,” the statement said. “While these new, temporary restrictions impact schools, many operators of establishments, and the public, it is critical that everyone follow the measures to help slow the rate of new cases of COVID in our communities. Reducing the number of new cases will help our hospitals, first responders, and public health and health care workers who are already straining to meet the demands for services. These agencies and organizations need to be able to function in order to care for us all.”

WCPO also reached to Gov. Beshear’s office about Beans Cafe and Bakery. Again, they did not respond specifically about the restaurant but provided text of what the governor said on Wednesday.

Beshear said in part, “These new restrictions are a lot easier to enforce than many of the others. For instance, being closed to indoor dining or bar service, you can very easily see (if a business is not complying). We’re also going to be asking our counties for assistance. Under Chapter 39A, they can enforce many parts of this executive order. Certainly most of the groups that are impacted are licensed, and there will be issues with those licenses if they don’t follow these new rules and restrictions. They will also be ineligible for the $40 million fund if they aren’t following them.”

In a Facebook post, Beans Cafe and Bakery said of the latest orders, "This is no longer just about health, it is about control."

On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a "staggeringly high" 3,649 new cases of COVID-19, again breaking the record for the highest number of cases reported statewide in a single day.