FILE - Craft brewery, beer, bar

(The Center Square) - Kentucky’s bars and restaurants received some much-desired relief when Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state would waive the annual state Alcoholic Beverage Control renewal fee to current licensees. 

The governor said the move would help bars and restaurants as they continue to deal with measures he’s imposed in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Current restrictions include limiting indoor capacity to 50 percent. Establishments must close by midnight, with last call at 11 p.m. 

“From the start of this pandemic, I have asked all of our state government leaders to find creative ways to help families and businesses that have been severely financially hurt by this crisis,” Beshear told reporters. “This has certainly been a difficult year for our bars, restaurants and venues, and they deserve this innovative support as we face what could be a very painful winter.” 

For fiscal year 2020, which ended in June, ABC collected $6.5 million in renewal fees. The department collected an identical amount in fiscal year 2019. 

The state had already collected $1.7 million this year from bars, restaurants and temporary venues this year. In the announcement, Beshear said establishments that have already paid would get a waiver for next year. 

State Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, tweeted her thanks to the governor, saying she urged him and ABC Commissioner Allyson Taylor to take the step. 

“Months ago I started meeting with bar and restaurant owners and asked what help looked like during this pandemic,” she tweeted. “Many said liquor license relief.” 

Last month, Louisville officials announced it would cut its annual license fees by 25 percent and waive fees for extended hours permits.  

Beshear last announced licenses that were set to expire on Oct. 31 would be extended automatically until the end of the calendar year.  

On Thursday, Beshear announced 2,318 new confirmed and probable cases were identified. That’s the second highest total ever in the state. That brings the total number of cases to 115,277. Of that total, 96,424 have been confirmed with the rest being probable. 

He announced 20 deaths, bringing that total to 1,534. That includes 23 cases currently listed as probable. 

Currently, there are 1,102 COVID patients hospitalized, with 291 in intensive care. 

The state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate is 6.5 percent. 

Across the state, 80 of the 120 counties are in the COVID “red zone,” meaning they’re averaging at least 25 new cases per day per 100,000 residents.