Thanks to the spread of the highly contagious respiratory virus COVID-19, social distancing is quickly becoming more than just a recommendation.

Over the last two weeks, Gov. Andy Beshear has issued executive orders forcing restaurants and bars to close its dining rooms and salons, gyms, churches and entertainment venues to close indefinitely.

Although there is currently not a mandatory "shelter in place" order for Kentuckians, Beshear is strongly advising workplaces that are still open to practice social distancing and to allow employees to work from home.

“If it is humanly possible to have them work from home, allow it … . You’ve got to create social distancing,” Beshear said during his Thursday COVID-19 press conference. “Do not put people in harm’s way.”

During his Friday press conference, Beshear again urged employers to allow their employees to work from home if they're able.

He also announced his office is working to establish a hotline for employees who have concerns about their workplace's response to the pandemic after the main COVID-19 hotline became flooded with calls about the issue. 

This week, The State Journal has received several messages from readers concerned that employers are not properly disinfecting their workspaces and are not allowing employees to practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart or working from home.

None of the workers were willing to speak on the record due to fears they would lose their jobs.

The State Journal checked in with a few businesses to see what they’re doing to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amy Preske, public relations manager at Buffalo Trace, said the distillery is changing work practices to increase social distancing.

“Sazerac Company continues to monitor CDC and health department guidance related to this matter,” she said.

If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms and/or tests positive, Preske said there is protocol in place.

“If an employee becomes sick and appears to have acute respiratory illness symptoms upon arrival to work or becomes sick during the day, they have been instructed to notify their supervisor immediately,” Preske said. “The team member will be separated from coworkers and be sent home immediately. The area where the team member had been working will be cleaned according to CDC guidelines.”

Buffalo Trace also recently canceled all tours and its annual Easter at the Trace celebration. 

Many Frankfort retail businesses have announced extra cleaning measures. And some are adjusting their hours to allow time for more deep cleaning, while some, like Goodwill, are deciding to close altogether.

Assistant Manager Josh Baker told The State Journal on Friday that the Goodwill store at 316 Versailles Road will be closed starting Monday, but the facility will still accept donations.

“It’s a tough situation,” Baker said.

In the meantime, the store is disinfecting surfaces often and disinfecting new items being donated, Baker added.

Baker said the decision to keep accepting donations was a difficult one to make.

“This is how we stock our store,” Baker said.

While the store is closed, managers will be the ones working to accept donations.

To protect themselves and customers, Baker said employees have also been wearing masks and gloves in addition to extra cleanings.

They’re also practicing social distancing.

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