ST. LOUIS — A group of St. Louis County restaurants -- led by the owners from Bartolino's -- are threatening to sue County Executive Sam Page over indoor dining restrictions set to go into effect on Tuesday.
"It puts us on an uneven playing field," Bartolino's co-owner Michael Saracino said. "It's not fair, not equitable, and we just don't understand the thought process behind it."
The restrictions would force restaurants to close dining rooms. Restaurants would still, however, be allowed to serve customers on patios and curbside.
The restaurant group says Page's decision to close indoor dining is arbitrary and irresponsible.
"We don't believe it's fair. We don't believe it's accurate, nor have we been shown the data to support this," Saracino said.
A spokesperson for Page said he "cannot respond to something that doesn't exist."
In St. Louis city, St. Charles County, and Jefferson County restaurants remain open for indoor dining.
Page said a surge in COVID-19 cases has led to the tightening of restrictions in the county.
Page announced three new public health orders Friday morning meant to help slow the spread of the virus and free up room in local hospitals.
He described COVID-19 as raging in the St. Louis County community.
The three new orders are:
- Safer at home
- Additional face mask mandates
- New isolation and quarantine guidelines
Page said St. Louis County has to make these changes now to help health care workers and hospitals – and keep residents from getting sick.
“Our hospitals are nearly full, frontline workers are worn out. We can’t responsibly wait any longer to get the virus in check,” Page said Friday morning. “These steps will help.”
Saracino said restaurants survived the first round of restrictions in the spring and summer with the help of federal funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act. Employees got by with an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits. Those options are no longer on the table.
"It's very bleak and ominous, to be quite honest with you. I'm not going to sugarcoat it," Saracino said.
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