UPDATED: St. Louis County Issues New Restrictions on Bars, Restaurants; City Limits Gatherings

Nov 13, 2020 at 7:35 am
St. Louis County Sam Page, shown in a file photo. - LEXIE MILLER
St. Louis County Sam Page, shown in a file photo.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with new details from St. Louis County Executive Sam Page's Friday morning briefing.

St. Louis and St. Louis County are imposing new restrictions as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge to record highs.

The county is temporarily banning in-person drinking in bars and eating in restaurants while limiting private gatherings to ten people. The new rules instruct everyone to stay home except for limited purposes, such as going to work, buying food or going out for health care. An update to the county's mask policy now requires all persons five and older to wear masks in most situations outside the home. The mask policy includes people working out in gyms.

"I wish this isn't where we had to go, but it is," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said this morning during a briefing.

The "safer at home" order also drops the number of people allowed inside businesses, including grocery stores, to 25 percent capacity. The previous limit had been 50 percent capacity.

While pushing harsher restrictions on capacity and mask-wearing, the county still allows takeout at bars and restaurants along with outside dining. The restrictions were first reported by KMOV and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday night, who cited county sources.

Also on Thursday night, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson posted on Twitter the city's latest order with new restrictions.

Krewson announced that all private gatherings of more than ten people will be prohibited. The new rule was outlined in the health department order issued by the city's acting health director Fredrick Echols and will go into effect on Saturday. It is expected to extend through Thanksgiving.

"This means no house parties, dinner parties, celebrations and/or any other type of private social event or gathering," Krewson said.

The city's new restrictions stopped short of a full stay-at-home order or a shutdown of in-person drinking in bars and eating in restaurants.

On Thursday, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force released disturbing new numbers, including new records for the seven-day averages in hospital admissions (101) and hospitalizations (599).

Krewson said about 50 percent of new cases in the city are among people in their 20s and 30s.

"In the city, contact tracing tells us transmission is primarily happening among friends, families, and neighbors via informal gatherings around homes and neighborhoods," she said on Twitter.

Page says that along with limiting in-person gatherings to ten or fewer people, they should be the same ten people. These "bubbles" shouldn't mix with other bubbles, and if anyone within one gets sick, the infected person needs to inform all the others.

The responsibility of infected people to inform others extends to anyone with whom they've had close contact, defined as being within six feet for at least fifteen minutes. All those people are then expected to quarantine for two weeks. Page says the virus is now so widespread the county's health department can't trace and inform everyone, so it will fall to individuals.

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