Kentucky on the rebound: Ag Commissioner & Ky. Restaurant Association pushing for re-opening businesses

Kentucky on the rebound: Ag Commissioner & Ky. Restaurant Association pushing for re-opening businesses

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Kentucky is on the rebound. The Commissioner of Agriculture was in Owensboro Tuesday.

His team, pushing for businesses to get back to normal.

Businesses now sit at 60 percent capacity.

“I mean, it’s a nine-plus billion-dollar industry for Kentucky,” said Stacy Roof, the president of the Kentucky Restaurant Association.

The Kentucky Restaurant Association is eager to see businesses open up more.

“We need a date certain that we know we are shooting for. I think people will respond to coming back to work better with a date that we need to be staffed up by rather than it’s kind of wiggly,” said Roof.

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, Dr. Ryan Quarles, agrees.

“When states like California have already announced their opening date, and Kentucky hasn’t, I think there’s a disconnect between the governor’s office and the reality across Kentucky,” stated Quarles.

The commissioner says the big issue businesses are facing right now is staffing.

“We don’t know why there’s such a labor shortage right now. We’re hearing that it’s competitive wages,” shared Quarles. “We’re also hearing that some folks are on government benefits and not wanting to come back to work.”

“You might have small children at home, and your child care is closed, or your school is closed,” added Roof.

The commissioner is pushing to fill job openings.

“So we’re also encouraging strictly young folks that this may be a great summer job to earn some extra cash,” said Quarles.

The commissioner and his team are working with cities across Kentucky, gauging how the restaurant and foodservice industry is doing. He says they’ll present their findings to the governor’s office.

“At the end of the day, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture does not control restrictions and guidelines,” stated Quarles. “It’s up to the governor’s office.”

Governor Andy Beshear says he’ll lift restrictions when 2.5 million Kentuckians are vaccinated.

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