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Leave your name, wear a mask: 5 changes to expect as St. Louis County resumes indoor dining

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen indoor dining, as long as several new safety protocols are followed

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Restaurants in St. Louis County can open indoor dining again beginning Monday, Jan. 4.

County Executive Sam Page announced details Wednesday morning of the plan developed by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and a group of restaurant owners. Page said the new safety protocols will help keep diners and restaurant employees safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The plan calls for five main guidelines:

  • Occupancy limited to 25% or the total number of diners sitting at tables 6 feet apart, whichever is lower. This also includes banquet facilities, which are limited to 25% occupancy or a max of 50 people.
  • Customers must wear face coverings while interacting with or being served by restaurant employees, in addition to when entering and leaving the business. Any customer refusing to do so will be asked to leave.
  • Indoor and outdoor dining must stop by 10 p.m. Delivery and curbside orders aren't subject to the 10 p.m. curfew.
  • Some bars will need to install physical barriers, like Plexiglas or plastic, between the server and customer
  • Establishments will record the names and contact information of patrons to help with contact tracing, if necessary

The full health order is available on the county health department’s coronavirus website.

The county executive credited a downward trend in coronavirus numbers for being able to loosen the restrictions on restaurants.

“We’re able to make this policy change because the numbers are going in the right direction,” he said Wednesday.

But even with the ban lifted, Page said dining inside restaurants still poses a risk for residents and those who work in the establishments.

“We worked carefully to mitigate those risks as much as possible,” Page said.

On Nov. 17, tighter restrictions went into effect in the county, which put a stop to indoor dining. Restaurants are still allowed to provide outdoor service, carryout and delivery.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Court of Appeals sided with the county in a lawsuit filed by restaurants that challenged the ban.

The latest in-depth look from the county health department showed several decreases in COVID-19 statistics.

A two-week analysis released on Monday showed the average number of new coronavirus cases decreased by 25.3% between Dec. 8 and Dec. 21, going from an average of 678 cases per day to 507.

The positivity rate decreased over that same time period, going from 17.2% to 14.6%.

The average number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations, as reported by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, also decreased by 1.2%.

You can watch Page's full briefing in the YouTube video below: