An unconventional ribbon cutting aims to put to rest an unconventional 15 months for local businesses.

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, as a way of celebrating the end of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions that have hamstrung many businesses since March 2020, will hold a “Back in Business” ribbon cutting Friday at the chamber headquarters at 710 College St.

Gov. Andy Beshear, in one of the latest of his dozens of executive orders issued since the pandemic began, declared May 14 that mask mandates and other COVID-19-related restrictions will be lifted June 11.

The governor declared that the state will rescind its mask mandate for everyone, including those who are unvaccinated, “with the exception of places where people are the most vulnerable.”

“Life will be almost back to normal,” said Beshear, looking forward to when the restrictions he put in place to guard against the disease become a bad memory.

Business owners and Republican lawmakers have bristled at many of the Democrat governor’s executive orders during the pandemic, but now the chamber leadership sees this order returning venues and events to 100 percent capacity as something worth celebrating.

“Some of our team members came up with this idea,” said Ron Bunch, president and CEO of the chamber. “Basically, we’re celebrating the reopening of our economy.”

Bunch said the local economy has fared well during the pandemic, but he acknowledged that many public-facing businesses like restaurants and retailers have suffered.

“This is a really big deal for them,” Bunch said. “They can get back to normal and, by reopening, they can provide consistent paychecks and relieve the stress that many families were feeling.”

The “Back in Business” ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the chamber and will include a “rib cut” featuring ribs from Montana Grille.

The governor’s removal of restrictions comes despite the state not yet reaching his original goal of ending those mandates once 2.5 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Beshear announced Tuesday that 2,091,572 Kentucky residents had received at least one dose.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit