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St. Louis County mask mandate confusion continues after court hearing

A legal challenge continues in court while some expect the county council could vote on another mask mandate

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County attorneys were back in court Tuesday morning defending the county's mask mandate, though no final decisions were made as they examine the impact of another recent ruling.

One of the key issues is the Nov. 23 ruling from Cole County Judge Daniel Green that prohibits local leaders from imposing public health orders, like the county's mask mandate.

St. Louis County was not listed as a part of the lawsuit, however, so county attorney Neal Perryman said they still need time to work through the ramifications of Green's filing.

Perryman added that the county's September mask mandate didn't carry any enforcement penalties and has since been removed from their website.

But attorney Jeff Johnson, representing the Missouri Attorney General’s office and their bid to ban the county's mandate, essentially argued there is one still in place, saying "merely removing it is not the same as rescinding the order or taking any other legal action that actually terminates the order."

Just a few blocks from the courthouse doors, The Diamond Shop in Clayton has sparkle and shine in their front window to turn heads, but there's another eye-catching sign on the front door, asking customers to "please wear a mask."

"The mask is protection," co-owner Mona Cohn said.

Cohn says that she consulted with her staff about safety concerns and believes the mask mandate is still in effect. Her employees are all fully vaccinated, complying with mask guidance, and asking the same of their customers.

"Nobody has given us any trouble. Nobody has gotten irate. Nobody has had any problems," she said, adding that the stack of spare masks will stay at their front door. "We'll see how things go because there's a new variant out so who knows what's gonna happen at this point."

Judge Ellen Ribaudo delayed any decisions until their next meeting on Dec. 9, saying it's unclear if she has the authority to rule against something that might not exist.

A representative for County Executive Sam Page's office said he also expected county council members to revisit the issue Tuesday night and any legislative vote to enact a new order would render court decisions moot.

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