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St. Charles County executive sends letter to restaurant and bar owners as COVID-19 cases rise

"I am aware that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a very busy bar evening for many of you," Ehlmann wrote in the letter

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — Restaurant and bar owners are being warned in St. Charles County as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann sent a letter to 1,401 bar and restaurant owners in the county Thursday evening ahead of a busy holiday weekend. The county does not license bars and restaurants in St. Peters, so those owners were not included, a spokesperson for Ehlmann said.

"For months, our county had been able to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, seeing just slow, gradual growth in the community. Unfortunately, we are now facing a severe rise in positive cases, a significant increase in hospitalizations, as well as an increase in the number of deaths. The hospitalizations have put a strain on all inpatient medical services. For these reasons, I am calling on each county resident to do what is necessary to help us get this virus under control," Ehlmann wrote.

Earlier this week, Ehlmann urged residents to change their behaviors to help stop the spread of the virus. County officials launched a public awareness campaign with billboards throughout the county reminding people to put on a mask, distance from others and limit your contacts. 

Ehlmann has not put any restrictions in place. The county said nearly 50% of its positive COVID-19 cases involved community contacts or an unknown source of exposure.

"I am aware that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a very busy bar evening for many of you. Crowds not wearing masks and not respecting six-foot distancing requirements represent an imminent health hazard. The Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Division will be out in force that evening ensuring you are taking the steps necessary to ensure the safety of patrons," Ehlmann said in the letter to bar and restaurant owners. 

Earlier this week neighboring county - St. Louis County - put tighter COVID-19 restrictions in place, which includes no indoor dining at restaurants.

"While we have not resorted to these kinds of orders, nor to the various legal remedies available to our public health officials, future actions will depend significantly on your continued compliance with the guidance provided to you by our county’s public health authority," Ehlmann said about St. Louis County restrictions.

Click here for St. Charles County's recommendations for employers amid the pandemic

RELATED: St. Charles County executive urging residents to 'change behaviors' immediately to stop COVID-19 spread

RELATED: St. Louis area task force continues to report record COVID-19 numbers, Gov. Parson reiterates no statewide mask mandate