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Government, Politics & Issues

Here Are The Rules Allowing Some St. Louis Businesses To Reopen May 18

St. Louis-area businesses remain closed as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. Weeks of reduced income, or none at all, has stretched small businesses thin.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has released a plan for how some businesses in St. Louis can begin to reopen.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has released detailed guidelines for how certain industries will be allowed to reopen and operate starting May 18.

By next week, city businesses in the retail, restaurant, hotel, construction and manufacturing, transportation and personal services sectors will be able to reopen and start serving customers in person again.

Krewson’s plan, posted Monday evening, does not let all types of business reopen. Gyms and fitness centers, casinos, banquet halls, large venues and cultural institutions, like museums or zoos, must remain closed for now. The plan does not say when they would be able to reopen.

The city order does not force businesses to reopen. Rather, it provides general guidance for those that are allowed to resume operating next week, including:

  • All workers and volunteers must wear masks, and employers have to provide them with protective equipment.
  • Workers must maintain six feet of social distance from coworkers and customers when possible.
  • Employers have to monitor their employees’ health each day or at the start of every shift. This includes taking workers’ temperatures and screening them for coronavirus symptoms.
  • Businesses have to sanitize frequently touched surfaces and allow employees to take frequent breaks to wash hands.

The plan calls for residents to continue to practice social distancing and to wear a mask or face covering inside businesses and indoor public spaces, on public transit and when social distancing cannot be maintained outside. Social gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer.
Krewson’s plan provides rules and guidelines specific to industries allowed to restart next week. Those include:

Restaurants and bars

  • Bars in St. Louis can reopen, but those in St. Louis County cannot.
  • Restaurants must seat dining parties at least six feet apart unless there’s a wall or other kind of divider that physically separates them.
  • No more than 10 people can be seated at a table.
  • All condiment containers, such as salt and pepper shakers or ketchup bottles, should be removed from tables and should only be handled by kitchen staff.
  • The city recommends maintaining a written or electronic log of customers who visit to help public health officials with contact tracing.

Retail stores

  • Customers cannot use reusable bags.
  • Stores must designate a staffer to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns.
  • The city recommends maintaining a written or electronic log of customers who visit to help public health officials with contact tracing if necessary.

Personal services (including salons, tattoo parlors, pet groomers, massage therapists and others)

  • Businesses should remove magazines, menus, snacks and beverages.
  • Workers must wash hands or use hand sanitizer between clients. 


  • Public transit riders must wear face masks.
  • Rental cars must be disinfected between every rental.
  • Taxi and rideshare drivers and riders must wear face masks at all times during the commute. 
  • Seating capacity should be limited so passengers can maintain six feet of separation between other riders.

Business offices

  • Face coverings must be worn at all times unless someone is working alone in an enclosed space.
  • Companies must provide breaks for employees to wash their hands and sanitize their workspace.
  • The plan urges companies to allow employees to continue working from home if they are able to.


  • Staffers can ask guests prior to check-in to complete a questionnaire screening for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Hotels can regularly check guests’ temperatures. 
  • In-room mini bars and snack offerings are not allowed. 
  • Self-serve drinks stations and food buffets must be closed unless the items are pre-packaged.
  • Fitness and entertainment areas as well as meeting and banquet rooms must remain closed.

Manufacturing, construction and repair work

  • Technicians must call ahead for in-home repairs and ask if occupants are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with or have had recent close contact with someone who has the coronavirus. 
  • Key personnel must be able to maintain six feet of social distancing while working.

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid 

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