With more than 1.8 million Kentuckians vaccinated and many calling on fewer COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new round of updates to his mandates.The first change that goes into effect immediately will be allowing small groups that are 100 percent vaccinated to gather indoors without masks. That’s an update to the announcement Beshear made last week about vaccinated groups being able to gather outdoor without masks.Beshear’s changes to the mask mandate come after new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the safety of being unmasked while fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means having either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the double-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.The latest update to the mask mandate means that groups — such as indoor meetings or other gatherings — can congregate without masks. Beshear stressed that private gatherings and businesses need to ensure everyone is fully vaccinated.Beshear called May an “incredibly important” month because it’s the last full month before children are released for summer break. He said it’s important for people to continue doing their part to follow measures because children can still become sick from COVID-19 while vaccines are not approved for their use.That’s why the governor is holding off on increasing capacity at indoor and outdoor businesses or venues until May 28, the kick-off to summer which is Memorial Day weekend.Beginning May 28, all indoor and outdoor businesses or venues with less than 1,000 people can boost capacity to 75 percent. That applies to retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, weddings and memorial services.For indoor and outdoor events with more than 1,000 people in attendance, capacity can increase to 60 percent beginning May 28, as well. Previously, the governor had boosted capacity for those venues to 50 percent.The governor stressed the importance of vaccinations continuing in Kentucky for even more restrictions to drop. He has been sticking to his goal of getting 2.5 million residents vaccinated to lift most all restrictions across the state.Still, Beshear reminded the state that Kentucky will continue easing restrictions ahead of reaching the goal. He reminded people that he has been doing so in recent weeks, shooting down recent criticism that the state needs to fully ease all restrictions.The governor brought up recent economic trends that he said show Kentucky is fully open because of record sales tax receipts and a budget surplus.Beshear sounded upbeat about fully lifting virus-related capacity restrictions this summer, noting that federal health officials are projecting a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases by July.“I’m hoping we’ll be fully done with all capacity restrictions by July,” the governor said. “That is my expectation. We don’t have to be patient for that much longer, but we do have to finish our work and protect the people around us.”So what’s next for Kentucky before the 2.5 million goal? Beshear said he’s waiting to see what CDC decides next week on whether the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be approved for use in children 12 to 15.Related: FDA expected to OK Pfizer vaccine for teens within weekBeshear said once that approval is given, the state can come up with a plan to get those children across the state vaccinated. His belief is that when that happens, the state will be able to fully ease all restrictions.Check out the video above to hear more from the governor.

With more than 1.8 million Kentuckians vaccinated and many calling on fewer COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new round of updates to his mandates.

The first change that goes into effect immediately will be allowing small groups that are 100 percent vaccinated to gather indoors without masks. That’s an update to the announcement Beshear made last week about vaccinated groups being able to gather outdoor without masks.

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Beshear’s changes to the mask mandate come after new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the safety of being unmasked while fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means having either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the double-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The latest update to the mask mandate means that groups — such as indoor meetings or other gatherings — can congregate without masks. Beshear stressed that private gatherings and businesses need to ensure everyone is fully vaccinated.

Beshear called May an “incredibly important” month because it’s the last full month before children are released for summer break. He said it’s important for people to continue doing their part to follow measures because children can still become sick from COVID-19 while vaccines are not approved for their use.

That’s why the governor is holding off on increasing capacity at indoor and outdoor businesses or venues until May 28, the kick-off to summer which is Memorial Day weekend.

Beginning May 28, all indoor and outdoor businesses or venues with less than 1,000 people can boost capacity to 75 percent. That applies to retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, weddings and memorial services.

For indoor and outdoor events with more than 1,000 people in attendance, capacity can increase to 60 percent beginning May 28, as well. Previously, the governor had boosted capacity for those venues to 50 percent.

The governor stressed the importance of vaccinations continuing in Kentucky for even more restrictions to drop. He has been sticking to his goal of getting 2.5 million residents vaccinated to lift most all restrictions across the state.

Still, Beshear reminded the state that Kentucky will continue easing restrictions ahead of reaching the goal. He reminded people that he has been doing so in recent weeks, shooting down recent criticism that the state needs to fully ease all restrictions.

The governor brought up recent economic trends that he said show Kentucky is fully open because of record sales tax receipts and a budget surplus.

Beshear sounded upbeat about fully lifting virus-related capacity restrictions this summer, noting that federal health officials are projecting a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases by July.

“I’m hoping we’ll be fully done with all capacity restrictions by July,” the governor said. “That is my expectation. We don’t have to be patient for that much longer, but we do have to finish our work and protect the people around us.”

So what’s next for Kentucky before the 2.5 million goal? Beshear said he’s waiting to see what CDC decides next week on whether the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be approved for use in children 12 to 15.

Related: FDA expected to OK Pfizer vaccine for teens within week

Beshear said once that approval is given, the state can come up with a plan to get those children across the state vaccinated. His belief is that when that happens, the state will be able to fully ease all restrictions.

Check out the video above to hear more from the governor.

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