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Missouri Restaurant Association joins lawsuit challenging St. Louis County COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining

COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining go into effect on Tuesday

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The Missouri Restaurant Association announced it'll join in on a legal challenge of the new COVID-19 restrictions in St. Louis County. 

Those restrictions go into effect on Tuesday and ban indoor dining in county restaurants. Restaurants will still be able to offer curbside service and outdoor dining. 

Page said a surge in COVID-19 cases has led to the tightening of restrictions in the county. On Monday, the county broke a record for daily COVID-19 cases.

A release from the Missouri Restaurant Association said the directive was issued "without due process" or an opportunity for public comment as it said would have been the case if the matter had been brought before the county council. 

“Restaurants in St. Louis County will be devastated by this shutting down of in-person dining.  Many industry employees will find themselves out of work with the holidays approaching,” Bob Bonney, CEO of the MRA, said in a statement.  “This temporary order will likely result in the permanent closure of many restaurants across the county.” 

This comes as a group of St. Louis County restaurants -- led by the owners from Bartolino's -- is threatening to sue St. Louis County Executive Sam Page over the restrictions. 

"It puts us on an uneven playing field," Bartolino's co-owner Michael Saracino said. "It's not fair, not equitable, and we just don't understand the thought process behind it."

Saracino told 5 On Your Side's Casey Nolen that the lawsuit is still in the works and Bartolino's will be open on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, spokesperson for Page said he "cannot respond to something that doesn't exist."

During Monday's briefing, Page said he recognizes that this is a difficult time for all businesses. 

"For bars and restaurants we recommend recognize that this is a very difficult time, this is a very difficult time for all of our businesses. This is a difficult time for hospitals and health care providers. This is a difficult time for people who have tested positive, who are in the hospitals, who are struggling for their lives, and difficult time for families who have lost their loved ones. And we're all going to work through this together," Page said. 

"We need more resources from our federal government. We need a continuation of the PPP program, and we need our folks in Washington to come together and come up with another relief package for all of our businesses across our country, all of our businesses who are negatively impacted by this pandemic," Page added.

In St. Louis city, St. Charles County and Jefferson County restaurants remain open for indoor dining.

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