In ‘cautious reopening,’ St. Louis County allows larger gatherings, increased capacity and more fans for sports

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Photo by Erin Achenbach

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page attends the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 Mile Garden, a food truck garden in Affton. The food truck garden and The Canteen @ 9 Mile Garden, a drafthouse next to the garden, opened July 3, 2020.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

With new cases of COVID-19 in what St. Louis County is calling “rapid decline” and vaccines becoming more widely available, the county is lifting certain restrictions intended to curtail the spread of the virus, County Executive Sam Page announced Monday morning.

The new guidelines, which go into effect immediately, allow for later business hours and larger gatherings both indoors and outdoors, among five total changes.

Private indoor gatherings of up to 20 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are now permitted. The limit had been 10.

Also, businesses may remain open until midnight rather than 11 p.m. The curfew does not apply to carryout or delivery service.

Conference centers and outdoor facilities may increase their operating capacity as long as they are still able to maintain health and safety precautions.

Some other businesses that are classified as entertainment venues, including casinos, sporting venues, theme parks and museums, may submit plans for reopening, which the county Department of Public Health will review and approve on a case-by-case basis.

Page called these changes a “cautious reopening” made possible by expected improvements in vaccine distribution. County residents are still urged to take common-sense measures like wearing masks, staying home when sick and respecting others’ personal space.

The new event planning guidelines can be found online here.

Page also used his press briefing to mark a year since the start of the pandemic in St. Louis County, when the state’s first case was confirmed in a St. Louis County student who had just returned from studying abroad in Italy.

No one could imagine the incredible toll this pandemic would take on our region and our country,” said Page, noting that more than 520,000 people have died across the country and 2,019 in St. Louis County. He held a moment of silence for the first person to die of COVID-19 in St. Louis County, prenatal nurse Judy Wilson Griffin, and the other victims.

“Today’s there’s hope,” Page said, noting that daily case counts have fallen from more than 800 in November to 125. “As I said a year ago, as one community, we will find hope, as one community, we will overcome this challenge.”