Not every St. Louis County business will be allowed to reopen May 18

Bars, gyms, sports, entertainment will be closed beyond May 18 reopening

Curbside+pickup+was+open+at+Helen+Fitzgerald%27s+in+Sunset+Hills+March+18.+

Photo by Erin Achenbach

Curbside pickup was open at Helen Fitzgerald's in Sunset Hills March 18.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

St. Louis County will start to reopen after the coronavirus shutdown as soon as May 18, but not every business will be part of that reopening process. And those that are will look very different.

That was the message delivered by County Executive Sam Page in his briefing Friday. Page had already previewed a “gradual” reopening process and end to his stay-at-home order at his briefing Wednesday. Crowds will still be limited to 10 people or fewer, and Page is encouraging anyone who can to continue to stay home.

In what Page called “the new normal” in St. Louis County, both employees and customers at businesses will be required to wear masks. Businesses can deny entry to customers who do not wear masks. Page, a medical doctor, put on his own mask as soon as the briefing ended.

“We expect those conversations and interactions to continue to be diplomatic,” Page said, alluding to incidents nationwide in which confrontations over wearing masks have turned violent.

But in more details provided Friday by Page, the county executive said that masks or not, not every business will be allowed to reopen.

Gyms, fitness centers, banquet rooms, conference centers, sporting venues and “entertainment” venues will not be allowed to reopen in the first phase of reopening set to happen May 18. Playgrounds, sports courts and public indoor and outdoor pools, including those at hotels, will also not be allowed to reopen. A gym owner sued Page and St. Louis County Monday hoping to open when Gov. Mike Parson ended his statewide shutdown that day.

Those businesses are considered high risk for transmission of COVID-19 because their customers cannot socially distance, Page said. They will only be able to open later based on how the county’s rate of infections fares after the first wave of reopenings.

An exception will be made for professional sports teams holding private practices with no spectators, which would apply to the St. Louis Blues’ practice facility in Maryland Heights.

Bars will not be allowed to reopen as normal in the first wave, but will be allowed to continue carryout and curbside service.

Restaurants can reopen to dine-in customers at 25-percent capacity. But customers will not be allowed to bring outside containers.

Whether an establishment qualifies as a bar or a restaurant will be determined by its license, Page said.

Page said he expects to see “arrangements whenever possible” for touchless delivery, touchless pickup.

All businesses that stay open will be required to frequently disinfect “high-touch” areas, provide “reasonable” breaks to employees so that they can wash their hands, provide training to employees on social distancing, require employees to wear masks in the business and provide signage and marketing on social distancing practices, Page said. They will also be required to screen employees daily for the coronavirus.

Photo by Erin Achenbach
An eerily empty Helen Fitzgerald’s prepares for curbside pickup the day after St. Patrick’s Day, usually a raucous celebration at the Sunset Hills bar and restaurant.