HARRODSBURG, Ky. — Sen. Rand Paul told a maskless crowd at a restaurant in Harrodsburg that it’s time to remove COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth.

What You Need To Know

  • Sen. Rand Paul is touring Kentucky, pushing for fewer coronavirus restrictions

  • The Republican said he's running for reelection in 2022, but spoke mostly about COVID-19 in Harrodsburg

  • Paul responded to comments from Beshear about vaccine hesitancy and those pushing for reopening

  • The former presidential candidate also talked about whether he plans to run again in 2024

“I think that we’re at a point where people can make those decisions,” Paul said. “In a free society, people will choose according to what they think their risk is, so they wouldn’t come here if they thought they had a high risk to a restaurant or to a bar. If they thought they were low-risk, they would.”

Paul spent most of his speech at the Rock Haven Cigar, Tap, and Pourhouse criticizing efforts by Gov. Andy Beshear.

“The governor wants 2.5 million of us to be vaccinated before we get any of our freedoms back. What science is that based on?” Paul said.

He also criticized President Joe Biden and supporters of the COVID-19 relief package passed in March.

“I don’t think they’re bad people; to me, they’re either uninformed or misguided,” Paul said. “And so they are, once again, big heart, small brain. They’re not thinking through the consequences of printing out a check and giving it to everybody because it sounds so good.”

During his most-recent press conference Monday, Beshear called out politicians who were traveling the state and urging him to remove restrictions.

“I know that there are those that are traveling the state, that this is just the newest thing they’re criticizing, if those folks would spend just some of that time encouraging people to get vaccinated, it would save lives,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he also plans on announcing incentives to get people vaccinated this week.

Spectrum News asked Paul about the governor’s comment, and he responded by saying Beshear needed to make the vaccine more accessible to primary care doctors. Paul said the issue adds to vaccine hesitancy.

“I talked to a group of doctors in Bowling Green the other day. They believe that if they were able to dispense the vaccine in their individual doctor’s offices, that there would be more people who would ask their doctor for their opinion and more people would get vaccinated,” Paul said.

On Monday, Beshear said the difficulty with giving the vaccine to individual doctors is limiting how many doses are tossed out each day, and it doesn’t appear like any manufacturer plans on providing the vaccines in single-dose vials anytime soon.

Paul told the audience he plans on running for reelection in 2022, but he didn’t talk much about the upcoming campaign. Spectrum News asked the Republican senator if he feels like the pandemic will make a difference on the campaign.

“I think time will tell, depends on what happens over the next year,” Paul said. “I think people are chafing at big government, chafing at the rules, particularly businesses and restaurants, restaurant workers, hotels, hotel workers, bowling alleys, hair salons; they’ve been greatly damaged by the governor’s edicts so I think there is going to be some pushback and people are going to really want government to leave them alone.”

Responding to a question from someone in the audience, Paul said he doesn't plan on running for president again in 2024, but was clear not to rule it out entirely. He said if former President Donald Trump decides not to run again, he expects another crowded field like in 2016.