ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Tightened coronavirus restrictions in St. Louis County will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page will discuss the changes and give other updates about the COVID-19 situation in the county during a scheduled briefing at 10:30 a.m. Friday. You can watch the update live in the video player above.
Earlier this week, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced there would be a rollback of the county’s reopening plan as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area.
The three major changes beginning Friday are:
- Business capacity reduced to 25%
- Gatherings limited to no more than 50 people
- Bars must close by 10 p.m.
When making the announcement Monday, Page said he was hopeful the new restrictions will only be in place for four weeks and cautioned the cases will still continue to increase.
"The decisions we made today will not bend the curve for at least three weeks," he said. "This step backwards, we believe, for the next four weeks, will keep us from doing anything more drastic."
Business capacity reduced
Under the new order beginning Friday, all businesses that are subject to capacity limitations will be reduced from 50% to 25% capacity. Those businesses include grocery stores, retail stores, personal services (hair, nail, etc), churches, funeral services, banquet and conference facilities.
Page said there will be new processes to close businesses that are not in compliance.
"If businesses are not playing by the rules, they should not be open," Page said during a news conference Monday morning.
Any business that is forced to close may still operate with minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’ inventory, provide security and process payroll.
When a business is subject to capacity limitations, that business must:
- Limit the number of individuals to 25% or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy
- Install physical barriers between customers and employees where possible or otherwise ensure 6 feet of distance between customers and employees
- In all areas which are prone to lines or congregation, install clear markings with signage, tape or other means that show 6 feet of distance as the appropriate spacing between customers
- Provide signage inside and outside the facility outlining social distancing requirements and face covering requirements
- Prohibit customers from bringing outside containers, including reusable bags or boxes, into the facility
- Arrange for contactless payment, pick-up and delivery options whenever feasible
- Follow any additional applicable requirements as determined by the health department
Businesses must comply with the health department’s order requiring members of the public and employees to wear face coverings.
Businesses can deny entry to members of the public who refuse to wear face coverings, unless someone has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one.
Qui Tran, owner of Mai Lee told 5 On Your Side, he's been doing 25% capacity for dine-in service after noticing that carry out sales was the breadwinner for now.
Even though he's taking precautions, he said the reduction is tough on business.
"Restaurants at 100% capacity already maybe do a 15% net, so for a business to operate at that capacity makes it that much harder," Tran said. "I don’t know what the right answer is but we are trying to follow all the guidelines. We need to come together as a community to do whatever is necessary to get through this and the sooner we can do this, the better."
Bars must close by 10 p.m.
Also under the order, bars will be banned from serving customers after 10 p.m. The county defined bars as any establishment where food sales make up no more than 25% of the total sales of food and drinks on an annual basis — meaning drink sales make up the vast majority of sales.
Gatherings limited to no more than 50 people
Gatherings will be limited to no more than 50 people. The gathering limitation does not apply to:
- Businesses that are subject to capacity limitations of 25%
- Professional businesses (offices, legal, accounting, etc.)
- Public transit, including airports
- Daycare and camps
- Polling places
- Other professional businesses that do not engage in direct interactions with the public
Certain businesses and planned activities must submit a proposed plan to the health department for approval. If approved, the business or activity can proceed but will have to follow capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements.
Businesses and activities subject to the planning process include:
- Entertainment and attraction venues (Six Flags, Butterfly House, Magic House, etc)
- Concert venues
- Mass sporting events
Activities that maintain a safe social distance, such as car parades and drive-in entertainment, are encouraged in lieu of other types of group activities “to promote community engagement and mental health.”
The county is working to make sure health care providers report COVID-19 test results more quickly.
Page also said all people who are awaiting test results should quarantine until the results are available, though it is not required.
Page said his administration made the decision to tighten the restrictions, in part, so that parents may have the option for in-person school this fall. He also announced he wants his administration to find a "safe place" for teachers to quarantine. He again urged parents to choose virtual learning instead of in-person options, if possible.
Click here for more information on the new restrictions.
As of Friday, St. Louis County is reporting 12,880 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 650 deaths. The county's average positivity rate over the past week is 9.7%
St. Louis County has more than double the total number of coronavirus cases compared to any other jurisdiction in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.