As with many other places across the country, St. Louis County is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases, and has enacted a new round of restrictions as a result. As of November 13, 2020, there were 38,620 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis County, with 900 new cases reported on November 12th alone. St. Louis County’s positivity rate reached a staggering 15.1%, the highest since April of 2020.  Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are on the sharp rise.

In response, the St. Louis County Executive, Dr. Sam Page, announced a series of new restrictions:

  • Restaurants and bars will close indoor service but not outdoor dining, curbside, delivery, and take-out service;
  • All businesses will be reduced to 25 percent of their occupancy limits (currently at 50 percent);
  • Gatherings will be reduced to a maximum of ten people (currently at 49 people);
  • Residents should only leave their homes for specified reasons articulated in the Safer at Home Order; and
  • Telework is encouraged, if possible.

The restrictions will begin on November 17, 2020, and will be in effect for four weeks with the option to extend the date if necessary.

What Should St. Louis Businesses Do?

The first step is to evaluate whether your business falls in one of the restricted categories, and immediately limit operations to ensure compliance. Consider reexamining existing COVID-19 policies and plans to ensure that they are adequately protective, and line up with current regulatory guidance from St. Louis County, and other sources (e.g., the new CDC definition of close contacts, discussed in more detail here).

In addition, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce has issued resources detailing how businesses should operate during this pandemic, so to the extent that any businesses are revising their operations in response to these restrictions, this information may be helpful.

How are the Restrictions Enforced?

According to the Safer at Home Order, failure to comply with these requirement may result in civil and criminal penalties, an emergency injunction, a disqualification from future financial services, and even criminal charges. Accordingly, it is clear that businesses should take these restrictions very seriously as there may be financial or criminal ramifications.

Conclusion

These restrictions in St. Louis County have immediate repercussions for businesses in the impacted industries, and is a signal that similar restrictions may be forthcoming in other areas of the Midwest that experience similar increases in case counts. Our COVID-19 Reopening Team is tracking those changes, and would be happy to discuss any questions regarding your particular business.