The city of St. Louis has set a 10-person limit on group gatherings to reduce the risk of potential super-spreader events amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the city is continuing to allow indoor dining.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis County, public health restrictions go further, reducing indoor capacity for businesses to 25% and eliminating indoor dining at restaurants to outdoor, takeout and delivery only.
Mayor Lyda Krewson has extended the city’s Temporary Outdoor Seating Permit Program through the end of next year, Dec. 31, 2021, which will allow city-approved restaurants and other businesses to expand outdoor seating and dining in the winter.
“I’m very aware of the many challenges the pandemic has created for our local restaurants and other small businesses and their workforce. I see this as an opportunity for us to continue to help them as much as possible so they can serve more customers and hopefully keep people on the payroll, while still being able to safely practice robust social distancing,” Krewson said.
In his Health Commissioner’s Order #15, that went into effect on Saturday, Nov. 14, Fredrick Echols, St. Louis’ acting public health commissioner, said about 50% of the new COVID-19 cases are occurring among people in their 20s and 30s, with “the increased spread of the virus in St. Louis city occurring primarily in gatherings among friends, families and neighbors via informal gatherings occurring in and around homes, and in neighborhoods.”
The city is limiting private gatherings to no more than 10 attendees, this includes house parties, dinners, celebrations and other social events. In case someone contracts the virus, exposed individuals can be more easily traced and quarantined. Although there is no word on how that would be enforced, the order states: “will continue to be in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded or amended.”
These measures do not apply to “day-to-day operations of businesses, schools, institutions of higher learning, and government offices,” the order states. Those are subject to previous health orders.
As of midday Monday, Nov. 15, the St. Louis Department of Health reported a cumulative total of 10,427 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 286 probable cases and 223 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in early spring..
St. Louis County’s “Safer at Home” order
St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page warned last week that tighter restrictions would be considered if the numbers didn’t get better in a week or two. But it only took a few days of consecutive record-number hospitalizations to force the county to act on behalf of public health.
On Friday, Nov. 13, Page announced the “Safer at Home” order, posted at stlcorona.com. This order means that people must stay at home unless it is necessary to leave for specific activities such as going to work or school, seeking medical care, or buying food or other daily necessities.
Restaurants cannot offer indoor dining in the county. Outdoor dining, take-out, and delivery are allowed. Bars may only provide carryout and delivery.
Businesses and houses of worship must reduce their capacity to 25% of the maximum allowed by the fire code.
Other group gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in St. Louis County.
For persons who must meet with others outside of their household, the order states it should be in an organized support bubble of no more than 10 people total, including family members or friends.
“These groups must be established, and even when a group gathers, all participants should practice masking, social distancing and other steps to reduce the risk of transmission. And if any member of the group gets sick, that person must immediately notify the other members,” the order states.
Face coverings must be worn by anyone over the age of 5, in any indoor setting outside of the home, including when at work, when frequenting businesses, or when gathering with people who live outside of your household.
This mask-wearing rule covers everyone at a gym, including those who are working out, participants in organized sports, when not actively playing in a game, and students in a school setting.”
If a St. Louis County resident tests positive for the virus, they are expected to immediately self-isolate and tell everyone that they were in close contact with to quarantine.