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Capacity increase gives St. Louis County businesses 'fighting chance' to stay opens

"Being able to go to 50% really gives us a fighting chance to have a good winter," said one restaurant

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County business owners breathed a sigh of relief Monday after now County Executive Sam Page announced a capacity increase to 50%, which goes into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.

But even with the capacity increase, the owner of Herbie's in Clayton said he still thinks people will choose to eat outdoors. 

"We're about 70% outside and 30% inside," Herbie's owner Aaron Teitelbaum said.  

Because of that trend, Herbie's has invested in a large tent and heating for a majority of the outdoor seating. Teitelbaum's team also retrofitted the indoor space with the hope that capacity limitations would be lifted or relaxed.

"We're in tens of thousands of dollars that we have invested in safety," Teitelbaum said. "Between air purifiers and plexiglass, and contactless payment menu stuff ... it's unbelievable."

Fighting to stay open is costly and the recently-loosened restrictions means better odds of staying open.

"Being able to go to 50% really gives us a fighting chance to have a good winter," he said.

RELATED: Youth sports, in-person learning, business capacity: St. Louis County announces COVID-19 changes

The 50% capacity will also impact fitness centers. 

"It's a very positive step," Burn Boot Camp Owner Ted Theodoropoulos said. "We've been at 25% capacity for months now and of course we're responsible for 100% of rent. Most of our other expenses have stayed the same as pre-COVID, so this has been really needed." 

The capacity increase means more people can come inside, but social distancing of 6 feet between participants will still be required. 

Even though masks are not required while working out inside Burn Boot Camp, Theodoropoulos said he believes it's safe to workout indoors.

 "We've had single-digit patrons walk through the door with COVID and we have had zero transmissions," he said.