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Health, Science, Environment

St. Louis Mayor Krewson Orders Bars To Close Early, Limits Business Occupancy To 50%

Some members of the Board of Aldermen were not happy with the way St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson handled the Board of Freeholders process.
File photo / Andrea Smith
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St. Louis Public Radio
City officials consulted doctors and public health experts before reinstating occupancy limits and other restrictions on businesses to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

St. Louis will require bars and restaurants to limit the number of customers and close by 11 p.m. to keep the coronavirus from spreading, city officials announced Wednesday.

The tightened restrictions begin Thursday and will last through Sept. 7. They are necessary to keep more people from catching the virus, as the number of new cases per day has increased since the city reopened earlier this summer, Mayor Lyda Krewson said.

City officials targeted bars and other nightlife establishments, aiming to protect people in their 20s and 30s, Krewson said. Young people have comprised more than half the city’s new cases in the past week.

“While they might not always have the underlying health conditions that can land them in the hospital for an extended period of time, they still present a significant risk of infecting others,” Krewson said. “Our intent here is to ensure the maximum number of people and businesses take prudent precautions.”

The order requires large venues such as banquet halls to limit the number of people inside to 50% of their capacity. It also encourages any business’s employees to quarantine themselves if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus or if they are awaiting test results.

The number of people testing positive each day for the coronavirus in St. Louis has dropped slightly since last month. As of Sunday, the seven-day average of people testing positive each day was 44. That’s still much higher than the number of new cases during the citywide lockdown in April and May.

The testing positivity rate, or the proportion of tests that come back positive, is still high, although it’s also going down, Krewson said. The statewide positivity rate is still more than 11%. The federal government designates any region with a rate higher than 10% a “red zone” for the virus.

MORE: St. Louis COVID-19 Dashboard: How Fast Are Coronavirus Cases Increasing?

But unlike earlier in the pandemic, cases are spreading throughout the city.

“A month ago we were seeing most of the cases being in north St. Louis, now we’re seeing even more cases really across the city,” Krewson said earlier this week. “The spread has just continued.”

St. Louis County increased restrictions on businesses late last month, limiting gatherings to 50 people and requiring businesses to operate at 25% of their occupancy limits.

County Executive Sam Page has said his office is taking a more aggressive approach with those who break the rule and closing down businesses that aren’t following masking and social distancing guidelines.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge

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