Several downtown St. Louis bars have been shut down for 14 days after videos on social media showed them disobeying COVID-19 restrictions.

“Last Monday, we issued letters to six businesses that were pretty seriously not following the guidelines,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson, during her Monday, July 27 briefing. “If you are on social media, we saw that some of those businesses are continuing not to follow the guidelines.”

Wheelhouse, which is a few blocks from Busch Stadium at 1000 Spruce St., posted a video on Instagram of a packed dance party and no one wearing masks.

On July 28, Sheriff Vernon Betts’ Office issued cease-and-desist letters to the Wheelhouse and its next-door neighbor Start Bar, as well as to Big Daddy’s on the Landing. 

Betts’ spokesman said they have a list of several other downtown entertainment venues to issue letters. The mayor’s spokesman said there are about five more businesses who will receive letters, but he couldn’t confirm names until the sheriff’s office has notified the businesses. 

“This is a very serious step that we never wanted to have to take,” Krewson said. “But we are seeing increases in cases significantly and high hospitalization numbers. We have tried to bring people into compliance. We hope that other businesses will get the message and come in line.” 

The city will continue to monitor compliance among all businesses, explore additional enforcement measures, and issue cease and desist letters when necessary, according to the mayor’s press release. Non-compliant establishments run the risk of also being shut down. 

According to the City of St. Louis Department of Health, positive COVID-19 cases have continued to increase over the last month, especially among younger individuals in their 20’s and 30’s. In fact, people under the age of 40 accounted for 64% of the city’s overall positive case count in just the last 30 days. 

“Physically distancing ourselves from one another and wearing a face covering are proven means of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “There has to be changes in our behavior if we are going to slow the rise of infections that we are seeing in the metropolitan area. The data is telling us that enough individuals are not changing their behavior. We will take the necessary actions to protect the health of residents and visitors.” 

Additionally, members of the public are strongly encouraged to choose outdoor spaces for dining whenever possible. Echols also recommends keeping your personal social gatherings at home, in parks, and at church to very small, limited groups with social distancing and masks and/or face coverings. 

The City of St. Louis still invites members of the public to continue reporting violations of the City’s COVID-19 public health orders by calling (314) 622-4800 or visiting https://tinyurl.com/STL-COVID-report

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