ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- As the spread of COVID-19 continues across the country, local leaders in the St. Louis region followed their Illinois counterparts and ordered the temporary closing of all restaurants and bars for dine-in service.
In a press conference Sunday, Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann and Tim Brinker from Franklin County announced all restaurants and bars will only be able to serve customers through curbside pickup, walk-up service, or drive beginning midnight Thursday in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.
"Public health experts have told us that changing the restrictions on bars and restaurants will save people's lives," Page said.
There is no clear timetable on how long the restrictions will last.
Page said he spent Tuesday talking to small business owners to understand the impact, which he said understands will be permanent. However, he said the choice was made for the best interests of the health of the region.
“Social distancing is the new reality,” Page said. “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.”
"We don't intend to hurt anybody, we are doing what's in our best interest from a health standpoint," Ehlmann added.
Page also observed that many establishments in the region have already begun limiting dine-in service on their own.
Krewson said if necessary, they are prepared to remind establishments about the rules if there are violations, but she believes the restaurant community will abide by the new restrictions.
"They understand, they are smart people. They are seeing the CDC guidelines just like all of us are," she said. "I expect they will abide by that but if we have to, we will visit with them about it."