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St. Louis business owners feel 'left in the dark' about mask mandate

"We're gonna comply, but we wish that wasn't the case," said Eric Drewett, manager at Cobalt Smoke and Sea Restaurant in Creve Coeur

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It was another Saturday night at Cobalt Smoke and Sea Restaurant in Creve Coeur.

The cooks prepared their usual sizzling specialties, and, general manager Eric Drewett had already talked to his 20 employees about a hot button issue on the table and on everybody's minds: mask mandate Monday.

"We're gonna comply," said Drewett.

St. Louis city and county officials said the fast-spreading delta variant is helping fuel a surge in COVID-19 cases in the area and the state.

For Cobalt Smoke and Sea, it means all patrons, including those who've been vaccinated, will once again wear a mask, particularly when they walk around the restaurant.

Exceptions will be in place for folks seated in a restaurant or bar eating and drinking.

"We wish that it wasn't the case, but it is what it is," said Drewett.

He predicts going back to wearing masks could set the business back and impact its bottom line.

"I think if will have an effect on our business. Anytime there's something out there that's gonna restrict especially indoors, I think people are going to be hesitant to come back out. I think we could see another period of time where people stay home," said Drewett.

County and city leaders are also encouraging people to put on a mask when they're outside, especially in group settings.

"I think we'll see more outdoor dining," said Drewett.

Leaders spent the weekend working out all the details of the official mask mandate announcement for Monday.

Meantime, the owner of a Ballwin gym is also weighing in.

"Basically, zero hours before we have to implement this thing," said Ted Theodoropoulos, owner of Burn Boot Camp, a private gym.

Theodoropoulos said county and city leaders didn't give them any details, direction and left them in the dark.

"It's been a headache for sure and we're still figuring out our response and our communication to our members who are very anxious about it," he said.

For now, they have to wait for more details to be fully unmasked.

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