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Bars sue St. Louis after viral videos led health officials to temporarily shut them down

Wheelhouse and Start Bar STL, at 1000 Spruce St., filed the lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court on Friday

ST. LOUIS — Two bars closed last month for allegedly violating COVID-19 health orders are suing the city of St. Louis, saying they were never told to act as the "mask police."

Wheelhouse and Start Bar STL, at 1000 Spruce St., filed the lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court on Friday, seeking an injunction preventing the city from enforcing shutdown orders. It also seeks a judgment declaring that two city health orders don't obligate businesses to ensure that patrons wear masks, and that the orders be voided "for vagueness." Stephen Savage owns the establishments.

But an attorney for the bars, Scott Rosenblum, said they could open Thursday night or this weekend, as the businesses work to come to an agreement with the city.

RELATED: 4 St. Louis bars ordered to temporarily close after city says they violated public health orders

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's administration on July 27 sent notices to four bars, including Wheelhouse and Start Bar, ordering them to close for two weeks for violating public health orders requiring social distancing and mask wearing. The prior weekend, social media posts showed crowds packed into Wheelhouse. Many patrons were not wearing masks, according to the video, shared on Wheelhouse's Instagram account.

RELATED: Video of packed St. Louis bar prompts city to temporarily close businesses

But the lawsuit says that the city's reopening guidelines "do not call on businesses to require patrons to wear face masks."

Further, it said the bars followed a face-mask order issued July 2 by the city's acting health commissioner, Dr. Fredrick Echols.

The full story is available on the St. Louis Business Journal's website.

RELATED: 'This took us completely by surprise' | St. Louis bar questions shutdown