St. Louis City, County Issue 'Stay-At-Home' Mandate; State Orders 'Social Distancing'
Updated 5:15 p.m. March 21 with comments from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson
St. Louis and St. Louis County residents will be under mandatory stay-at-home restrictions beginning Monday.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson said the state would take a different approach, announcing new social distancing measures to limit interactions in Missouri.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and Mayor Lyda Krewson announced the stay-at-home order on Saturday. The new restrictions, which require people to remain in their homes whenever possible, are part of an ongoing effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The order will remain in effect for 30 days.
“It was an extremely difficult decision that we did not take lightly,” Krewson said during a Saturday press conference, calling the order an “unprecedented response.”
Krewson said there is evidence the novel coronavirus is now spreading from person to person within the St. Louis region and warned the outbreak would only worsen without serious action.
The county's stay-at-home order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, while the city's will begin at 6 p.m.
This was not, by any means, an easy decision. I wish I didn’t have to do this. It’s disruptive. It’s inconvenient. It’s stressful.— Mayor Lyda Krewson (@LydaKrewson) March 21, 2020
But we have evidence of community spread of #COVID19 — and we need to take action to limit social mixing & safeguard our healthcare systems.
There are a number of exceptions to the stay-at-home order, city and county officials said. Residents of both jurisdictions will still be allowed to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, hospital, laundromat, bank, gas station and public parks — as well as pick up carryout food from restaurants.
“Our goal here is to keep the economy running as much as we can and not to further impact the hardworking people of our city,” Krewson said.
Violating the stay-at-home order is a misdemeanor, Krewson said, though the new restrictions are not intended to be "punitive."
Essential workers will be exempted from the order, Page said at his own Saturday press conference, including health care workers, first responders, infrastructure and "any business that would support those activities."
Also exempted from the order are essential businesses and institutions, including health care facilities, grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and bars providing takeout or delivery, gas stations, car repair businesses, banks, hardware stores, post offices and shipping services, laundromats, child care facilities, construction companies, hotels, journalism outlets and all levels of government.
What is closed?— County Executive Sam Page (@DrSamPage) March 21, 2020
Non-essential businesses are closed. Examples include salons, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks, museums, concert venues, and similar places.
Refer to the DPH order for more specifics. #STLCovid19StayAtHome
The stay-at-home order, Page said, was the result of weeks of collaboration between St. Louis city government and St. Louis County, as well as St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties.
“The coronavirus does not respect city boundaries or county boundaries or any of our regional jurisdictions,” Page said, explaining the need for cooperation.
Although the order is currently limited to St. Louis city and county, Page said that he would expect an announcement on “further restrictions” in surrounding jurisdictions in the coming days.
In a statement, however, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann responded that St. Charles County would not be following suit.
“I do not believe we are in a situation where government should be deciding which businesses must close and which may stay open,” Ehlmann said. “We will continue to educate our residents that they should stay home except to go to work and procure the services they feel are essential. If businesses and residents work together to do what is right at this critical time, we will be doing everything we need to do right now to slow the spread of this disease.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a statewide order Saturday that prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people in a single place. The order also forbids people from eating at dine-in restaurants, although drive-in, pickup and delivery are still allowed. Visits to nursing and retirement homes will be prohibited unless to provide critical assistance.
“The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained, and the sooner this order will expire,” Parson said during a Saturday press conference.
Grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks will remain open while schools will remain closed. The order will take effect Monday and will remain until April 6 unless extended.
Parson didn’t rule out implementing further measures.
“Right now, I think that this is the important order of the day,” he said. “If for some reason this doesn’t work, then we take another action at some point.”
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Correction: The county stay-at-home order begins at 12:01 am Monday and the city's begins at 6 p.m. Monday. A previous version of this story listed the wrong time for the county.