The number of confirmed cases has quickly increased since the state reopened for business on June 16, swelling by 10.9% in just the last seven days, health officials said.
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Masks will be required in St. Louis City and County beginning Friday, July 3, as officials look for ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces.
All citizens are required to wear a face mask or covering at all times when in indoors and outside when social distancing is not possible. The requirement applies to everyone over the age of 9 years old. There will be limited exceptions to the order for certain circumstances and health conditions, the mandate says.
"If you care about anyone else you should just wear a mask," Dr. Fredrick Echols with the St. Louis City health department said. "It's not a big deal."
According to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, business owners are allowed to turn away customers if they do not want to wear a mask inside the business.
“Our goal today – as it has been all along – is to adopt science-based practices and follow the advice of our public health experts to slow the spread of the virus,” Page said.
Some restaurants like Sasha's Wine Bar in the Demun neighborhood have required masks since the owners decided to open their doors. The only time customers are allowed to take masks off is when they are seated and eating. Other restaurant owners said it was hard to make masks mandatory, as some customers just simply refused to wear them. Aaron Teitelbaun, owner of Kingside Diner in Clayton, is glad wearing masks is now a must and not an option.
"I think it's a great thing," Teitelbaun said. "I think the mandatory gives us the power to really enforce that rule and we're grateful for it."
There is no mask policy and Krewson said it's up to the public to enforce the mandate.
“People and businesses across the St. Louis Region have responded so well to the ongoing threat of COVID-19," Krewson said. "Making face masks or coverings mandatory is an important step to ensure we do not go backwards as a region in the fight against this virus."
Officials said the mandate is to fight the spread of COVID-19 and save lives while not rolling back business restrictions or having to issue another stay-at-home order.
Cases in the St. Louis area have been gradually rising lately and Missouri reported a near record amount of cases Tuesday.
"We continue to see some elevation in our numbers across the region, which is something that we're concerned about," Dr. Alex Garza said. "It's really a reminder to all of us that the virus is still out there, and that we must do our part to keep it from spreading and keep cases from increasing at a rapid rate."
Tracking coronavirus cases, deaths in Missouri
|St. Louis City||5138||177|
|St. Louis County||15284||672|
Garza is the head of the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force. In his Wednesday COVID-19 update, Garza said hospitalization of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased in the last 24 hours from 143 to 154.
Wearing masks is not mandatory statewide and Governor Mike Parson said it's up to cities and counties to make such requirements.
"We're gonna continue to support people who wear masks we're just not gonna mandate it from the state level I think we've been pretty consistent with that message," Parson said.
Here are more details from St. Louis County
You must wear a face covering when you are:
- Waiting to be seated at an indoor or outdoor restaurant, food establishment or bar, or whenever you leave your table (you do not need to wear it while eating or drinking at your table);
- Waiting in a line to enter a grocery store or any other retail facility;
- Shopping at a store;
- On public transportation (or waiting for it to arrive);
- Driving or riding in a taxi or rideshare vehicle (even by yourself);
- Seeking healthcare;
- Going into any other facilities that allow members of the public to enter the facility, like laundromats, banks and government buildings;
- In a common area inside a building, like an elevator, hallway, stairway, or parking lot;
- Working at a job where you interact with others;
- Going into someone else’s home for work, such as providing a service, cleaning, or maintenance; and
- Walking outside when you are unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others, such as on sidewalks or paths.
Face coverings are not required when:
- You are at home (unless you are living with someone with a higher risk from COVID-19 – you should wear one for their protection);
- Working alone in a private office or an enclosed space (as long as you put on a Face Covering quickly if someone enters);
- In your car alone or accompanied only by people you live with;
- Sitting or standing outside alone or with people you live with (such as picnicking outside) and you are more than six feet from others;
- Exercising outdoors alone or with people you live with (walking, hiking bicycling, or running) and no one else is within six feet;
- You are at a pool while in the water;
- You are engaged in a sports activity while playing;
- You are engaged in an exercise activity at a gym, for the period of time when you are exerting yourself;
- Consuming food or drink in a restaurant or bar while adequately distanced from others; and
- Consuming food or drink in any other public location while adequately distanced from others, such as a banquet center.
Kansas City implemented a similar mask requirement last week.