St. Louis restaurants close to dine-in customers starting Friday; part of ‘social distancing’

St.+Louis+County+Executive+Sam+Page+updates+the+public+about+COVID-19+%28coronavirus%29+preparedness+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+28%2C+2020.+At+right+is+Spring+Schmidt%2C+co-director+of+the+Saint+Louis+County+Department+of+Public+Health.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page updates the public about COVID-19 (coronavirus) preparedness on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. At right is Spring Schmidt, co-director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.

Restaurants and bars in St. Louis County and St. Louis city will close for dine-in business starting Friday, making them takeout-only — a practice that has been implemented to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in other states, including Illinois.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page signed an executive order Tuesday that will close all dining establishments and bars. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joined him to announce the initiative.

Bars and restaurants have to close to inside business by midnight Thursday.

But before then, Page ordered the restaurants and bars to implement social distancing measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Starting Tuesday, all restaurants and bars have to take measures to reduce the number of employees and customers in one room.

The takeout-only order goes into effect 12:01 a.m. March 20, at which time restaurants and bars can only serve customers through delivery, carryout, curbside or a drive-thru.

“Social distancing is the new reality,” Page said in a news release. “This practice needs to become part of our daily habits, including how we enjoy dinner out. I appreciate all the entrepreneurs who will use their creativity to support our region’s health during this critical period.”

This is the fourth executive order issued by Page to limit the spread of COVID-19. Others have declared a state of emergency, imposed restrictions on large gatherings, and adopted family-friendly employment policies.