As COVID-19 cases hit record numbers in the area, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has announced a new set of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, including some that directly impact local bars and restaurants.
In a Friday morning press conference, Page announced that starting Tue., Nov. 17, bars and restaurants in St. Louis County must close for indoor service. Takeout and delivery operations can still resume and, despite some initial confusion surrounding early reports, restaurants, bars and breweries will still be allowed to offer patio dining, but capacity limits will be reduced down to 25 percent. Although bars and restaurants have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, Page said in the press conference that the new restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of the virus, which recently hit record numbers in the area.
"We do have evidence of transmission from bars and restaurants," he said. "This is a business that depends on an unmasked environment for people to gather together. We are very sensitive to the economic plight of all of our businesses including restaurants and bars, and we certainly feel badly for them. They are in a terrible situation and have been deeply impacted by COVID-19...We don’t like to do it, but this is where we are and what we have to do in St. Louis County."
The new order, which also includes a limit of 10 people for social gatherings, will remain in place at least for the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lyda Krewson has announced a few new restrictions for the city of St. Louis, which will also be limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people. "Over the past several weeks, especially after Halloween get togethers, it's no secret we've seen a large resurgence in new #COVID19 cases and hospitalizations – locally, regionally, and nationally," she wrote. "In the City, contact tracing tells us transmission is primarily happening among friends, families, and neighbors via informal gatherings around homes and neighborhoods. About 50 percent of our new cases are also coming from folks in their 20's and 30's."
Based on recommendations from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and the city's Joint Board of Health and Hospitals earlier this week, Krewson said that a full stay-at-home order and additional restrictions on businesses including restaurants and bars "are not recommended at this time," but that's subject to change as they continue to monitor the data and mitigate the spread of the virus.