ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced new restrictions Monday aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, including limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people, limiting business occupancy to 25% and prohibiting bars from serving customers past 10 p.m.
And 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.
The restrictions will take effect Friday, July 31 at 5 p.m.
The county is also taking action to ensure all health care providers report their results more quickly. A spokesperson for the health department said not all testing providers, especially urgent care clinics, are not complying with the county's rapid order notification.
Also, Page 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.
Page said he is 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."
The St. Louis Pandemic Task Force said it fully supports the changes.
“All of the COVID metrics are moving at a concerning and unsustainable rate, including increasing cases, percent positives of testing, and hospital admissions," Dr. Alex Garza, the task force's incident commander said in a press release. "We must act now to avoid further spread, hospitalizations and deaths which typically follow rapid increases in cases. We must take these steps if we want to flatten the curve, get our kids back playing sports and in school full-time, as well as keep everyone safe and healthy.”
The new restrictions come after an increase in cases. St. Louis County reported a record 523 new cases Sunday and set a single-day record for new cases four of the last six days. The county reported 297 new COVID-19 cases Monday morning, bringing the total to 11,507.
Currently, county guidelines state non-essential businesses and institutions including restaurants, retail, salons, fitness centers and places of worship are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. They must follow strict sanitation guidelines and allow for social distancing.
With 11,507 confirmed positives, St. Louis County has twice as many COVID-19 cases as any other jurisdiction in the state and more than one-fourth of the total cases in Missouri. The county's 636 deaths account for more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state. St. Louis County has a population of about 1 million people, less than one-sixth of the total population of Missouri.
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