ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis area has likely reached its peak of COVID-19 cases, doctors with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force confirmed this week. There will continue to be cases, and the decrease will be gradual, but that has local leaders, business owners and residents wondering when stay-at-home restrictions can be loosened.
The plans to reopen the local economies vary by state, county and city. We've gathered up the information from St. Louis area leaders on when they plan to loosen restrictions and lift stay-at-home orders.
Here are the guidelines announced so far:
Missouri – May 4
Missouri’s stay-at-home order goes through May 3, allowing many – but not all – businesses to begin reopening on May 4.
Governor Mike Parson said local officials can still enforce their own regulations, which means people who live in St. Louis and St. Louis County will continue to follow the local orders.
Gov. Parson said during “phase one” of the plan, people can start returning to work and social activities, but they still must follow social distancing requirements, including keeping a distancing of 6 feet.
"There are currently no limitations on social gatherings as long as necessary precautions are taken," according to a release from Parson's office.
Included in the businesses that will be able to open: small and large businesses, manufacturers, barbershops and salons, gyms and restaurants. Some workers will be required to wear personal protective equipment if it is not possible to maintain proper social distancing.
Restaurants can resume dine-in services if they follow social distancing measures, and the same goes for people going back to church.
Illinois – No date set
Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed an executive order extending Illinois’ stay-at-home order through May 30. The new order requires people who are over the age of 2 and medically able to wear face coverings in public.
"If we lift the order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May, and that would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full, and very sick people would have nowhere to go," Gov. Pritzker said during his announcement on April 23.
Illinois has the fourth most COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the CDC. Only New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have more confirmed cases.
Gov. Pritzker has faced two legal battles over his stay-at-home extension. Rep. John Cabello, a Machesney Park Republican, said he wants a compromise on the order. Republican State Rep. Darren Bailey was the first to file a lawsuit saying the governor "overextended his power by issuing additional ‘stay at home’ orders." A circuit judge in Clay County granted a restraining order that would temporarily block the governor's extension of the state's stay-at-home order for the lawmaker who filed the suit.
St. Louis County – No date set
St. Louis County will not follow Missouri’s reopening timeline. The county remains under a stay-at-home order until further notice.
On May 4 – the day the state lifted its stay-at-home order – County Executive Sam Page reconfirmed he’s working with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on a timeline for both jurisdictions to reopen.
“Our goal is to have a timeline by mid-week with guidance for businesses, as well. It’s too early today to pick a date and start building around that date – we really need to see the reports from Dr. Garza over the weekend,” Page said, referring to the incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
Page said he and Krewson both have a target of mid-May, but they aren’t ready to settle on a specific date.
Page has stressed how different St. Louis County is when it comes to the coronavirus. The county has more confirmed cases and deaths than any jurisdiction in the state. About 40% of Missouri’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50% of the state's COVID-19 deaths are in St. Louis County.
Page has also stressed the need for more tests in the county before social distancing measures can be relaxed.
Page has said businesses planning to reopen before the stay-at-home order is lifted should plan on getting "good legal advice." He explained that it would create a “complicated legal environment” for any person who goes into a business that is in violation and gets infected with the virus.
St. Louis County had closed all of its county parks on April 3 after reports of crowding and people not following social distancing guidelines. On April 28, about 30 parks reopened to the public.
City of St. Louis – No date set
Like St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis is under a stay-at-home order “without an end date.”
Mayor Lyda Krewson said she and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page are working together to ensure their jurisdictions’ stay-at-home orders are in line.
On May 4, she said an announcement could come this week. Krewson said she and Page are hopeful to reopen in a couple weeks.
"Fingers crossed, by mid-May, if we can continue to see improved numbers," Krewson said during her update on Facebook live on Monday afternoon.
Mayor Krewson emphasized testing is still an issue and that the city doesn’t have enough test kits to see if asymptomatic people, front line workers and essential workers have the virus.
She said adhering to social distancing guidelines and wearing masks are still key to prevention.
"I think we're in for wearing masks for quite a while," she said.
St. Charles County – May 4
St. Charles County will follow Missouri’s plan to return to work and social activities on May 4.
County Executive Steve Ehlmann made the decision because the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county per 10,000 people is less than half of that in St. Louis and St. Louis County, according to a press release from Ehlmann's office.
“We believe St. Charles County is ready to reduce restrictions and, while continuing to require social distancing, allow individuals to make decisions on whether to frequent a business,” Ehlmann said in the release.
St. Charles County never implemented a stay-at-home order that required businesses to shut down. Instead, Ehlmann issued guidelines for businesses to follow. Still, many businesses owners made the decision to temporarily close their doors.
Lincoln County – May 4
The county health department has released a “Phase 1 Order” plan to begin reopening the county at 12:01 a.m. May 4, following the state’s guidelines. The order will stay in effect through the end of May.
Restaurants and bars will be able to reopen as long as they continue following social distancing and public health measures. Curbside, drive-thru, pickup and delivery are still strongly encouraged
Places of worship also can reopen their doors. Retail locations will have to limit the number of people allowed in stores.
Anyone going out in public must still follow the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing.
Jefferson County – May 4
On April 28, Jefferson County announced it would follow Missouri’s lead and begin reopening businesses on May 4. However, the county will still have rules in place for residents and businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The county is asking residents who feel sick to stay home and to continue the hygiene routines that have been in place recently, including frequently washing hands, avoid touching your face and disinfecting frequently used items. Residents also are asked to minimize travel.
Residents also are asked to “avoid socializing in groups that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing (receptions, trade shows, etc.) When in public (parks, outdoor recreation spaces, shopping malls, etc.), individuals should maximize physical distance from others.”
Businesses have been asked to implement basic steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, including using protective equipment and doing temperature checks. Employees should still telework whenever possible and workspaces should be modified to maximize social distancing.
Franklin County – April 25
Franklin County was the first jurisdiction in the St. Louis area to announce it would begin reopening its economy. On April 21, Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker announced some businesses would be allowed to reopen starting on April 25, a full week and a half earlier than Missouri planned to lift its stay-at-home order.
"We must allow for businesses to thrive and for people to choose," Brinker said in his YouTube announcement.
The full list of businesses allowed to reopen on April 25 are:
- golf courses
- movie theaters
- concert halls
- exercise and fitness studios
- bowling alleys
- skating rinks
Even though businesses were allowed to reopen, many opted to keep their doors closed.
Eureka – May 15
Businesses will begin to reopen on May 15, Mayor Sean Flower said.
After making the announcement, Flower said his office received “an enormous amount” of calls, messages and emails with questions about how the plan would work. At that point, he changed the plan to May 15, which lines up with Kansas City’s reopening date.