St. Louis County changes mask mandate to require businesses to turn away those not wearing masks, lowers mask-wearing age to 5

An employee wears a mask at the newly reopened Crestwood pool, as seen June 19.

An employee wears a mask at the newly reopened Crestwood pool, as seen June 19.

St. Louis County announced three major changes to its mask mandate Friday: Businesses are now required to turn away customers who don’t wear masks, children age 5 and up will have to wear masks in public spaces and all children kindergarten age and older will have to wear masks in schools.

The original mask mandate, issued by County Executive Sam Page July 3, said that businesses could turn away customers who aren’t wearing face coverings, but didn’t require them to. The original order also required anyone age 9 and up to wear a mask. The order did not include specific requirements for masks in schools for younger children.

The new changes go into effect Monday, Aug. 24.

The county Department of Public Health said it had received “many complaints” that businesses are not enforcing the mask mandate. Alternatives for those who are medically unable to wear a mask or just refuse to wear one are encouraged, including curbside service or delivery or allowing someone to wear a face shield instead of a face covering.

“The clarification of this language should not only assist businesses in enforcing the requirement, but also make customers feel more protected,” the county said in a news release.

The face covering order has been amended to make the following changes as of Monday: 

  • Requires masks to be worn in educational institutions, public or private, in grades kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12).There are a few times during the school day that a student can remove their masks:
    • While at recess or in physical education class, as long as students are at least 6 feet apart;
    • While participating in band, choir, or music class, as long as students are at least 6 feet apart;
    • While consuming food or drink as long as students are at least 6 feet apart; and
    • While participating in a school sponsored sport, as long as the youth sports guidelines issued by the Department of Public Health are being followed. 
  • The age for children to wear masks in public accommodations changes from over the age of 9 to over the age of 5 — to reflect the requirement now in schools. If a 5-year-old is attending kindergarten, they must wear a face covering.
  • The order specifically states that businesses “must” deny entry to customers who refuse to wear a face covering. Modifying the language from “authorizing” to “must deny” entry empowers the businesses to enforce the requirement.

The amended orders will be posted online at stlcorona.com later today.