St. Louis County will strengthen the limits of bars, crowds; City to close clubs defying rules

Updated at 5:25 pm on July 27 with details of plans to close some bars in St. Louis

Alarmed by a growing number of coronavirus cases, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced new actions on Monday to stem the rapid spread of the virus in the region.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, the county will limit meetings to 50 people, businesses must operate at 25% of their occupancy limit, and all bars must close at 10 each night. Page said her office will begin closing businesses that “don’t follow the rules.”

The new restrictions will be in effect for at least a month, Page during a press conference on Monday morning. “The decisions we make today will not bend the curve for at least three weeks,” he said. “We think this step back to where we were in June for the next four weeks … will prevent us from doing something more drastic later in the year.”

Page also recommended that people be quarantined while awaiting the results of coronavirus tests, and asked that people wear masks while in public to contain the outbreak.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted Monday afternoon that the city’s Health Department would temporarily shut down businesses that “have obviously ignored our public health orders # COVID19 that require masks and social distancing, and as a result they have jeopardized the health and safety of our community and the general public. ”

The health department will deliver letters ordering those companies to close for two weeks, Krewson said during a live news conference on Facebook. His office declined to disclose the names or the exact number of bars to be closed. Health officials will work with bars to implement new guidelines.

Over the weekend, a video of masked partygoers packed into the Wheelhouse, downtown restaurant, and nightclub posted on social media prompted the city to enforce its mask and social distancing rules. Since then, the video has been removed from the bar’s social media accounts.

While many companies follow public health orders, Krewson said, some remain challenging. She said she hopes the city to order the closure of some bars will serve as a warning to others.

“We are trying to avoid closing a full company ranking, we don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Krewson said on Facebook Live. “We are using what I would call a more surgical approach to this, rather than a general approach.”

Leaders in both St. Louis County and St. Louis said their actions against bars follow a notable increase in cases of people under the age of 40. People in their twenties account for nearly a third of all new cases in the past month in St. Louis, Krewson said. Meanwhile, people in their 60s account for just 6% of the city’s cases, and the percentage of cases continues to decline for people over the age of 60, Krewson said.

The restrictions follow a general increase in cases in the region. Over the past week, the St. Louis metropolitan area averaged about 610 cases per day. That’s an increase of about 27% from the week before. St. Louis County has the most reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in Missouri. On Sunday, 523 more people tested positive in the county. Page said a large number of those cases are people in their 20s to 29s.

The number of patients using beds in the ICU has increased in the region’s four main hospital systems since the end of June, according to data from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. Hospitals admitted an average of about 40 patients per day over the past week for coronavirus-related problems, a level that the task force says could require local governments to order stricter restrictions.


Page said he will work with the county health department to ensure that health providers issue test results immediately. She acknowledged that some urgent care centers in the county have been slow to share the test results with patients.

More details on the county’s coronavirus guidelines will be released this week, Page said.

St. Louis is one of 11 cities that need to take “aggressive” steps to curb coronavirus cases, Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said last week.

Page said he wanted to implement these restrictions before the start of the school year. She said she hoped the restrictions would slow the spread of the virus to the point where parents have the option of sending their children to schools to learn in person. However, she strongly recommended that children start with virtual instruction if they can.

Page appointed the county director of human services to identify “safe spaces” for teachers to quarantine if they begin to experience symptoms.

Since March, more than 42,000 people in Missouri have tested positive for the virus. In the St. Louis bi-state region, more than 25,000 have.

St. Louis County has already canceled youth sports, citing a link between games and practices with positive cases of the virus.

Nearly 1,200 people have died of COVID-19 in the St. Louis area since the coronavirus first spread to the region in early spring. New cases began to decline after an initial spike in April, but have increased rapidly in the metropolitan area, Missouri, and nationally since late June.

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