ST. LOUIS ( -- At Northwest Coffee Roasting in the Central West End, owner Jason Wilson is brewing a safe environment for customers and staff.

"The point is you want to get a drink; we want to be safe,” he said.

He requires all customers to wear masks inside the shop and enter one group at a time when they place an order. Outside in the courtyard, masks are optional.

It is a policy he believes in, especially as COVID-19 continues to surge in the state of Missouri and the Delta variant continues to threaten the community’s unvaccinated population.

"We don't know exactly what’s happening out there,” said Wilson. “There are people who aren't vaccinated, who may be anti-vaccinated, and we just want to be on a safe side."

Wilson and some of his customers welcome the idea of more businesses making it a requirement as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise.

"I'm going to kind of wear a mask wherever I am in public anyway and especially if a business is asking to, I have no problem pulling out a mask and putting one on,” said customer Lacey Raper.

While communities like L.A. County are now reinstating a COVID-19 mask mandate in indoor spaces, St. Louis City and County Health leaders tell News 4 this is not on the table for now.

"We'll be following the science, but we'll also be making sure that we do our very best to mitigate any unintended consequences because we know that mitigation efforts can have a detrimental impact on our economy,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, Acting Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “So, we want to make sure that we aren’t causing undo harm, or unnecessary harm to our community as well."

Wilson believes most of his customers are generally supportive of wearing a mask when asked and he says it does not disrupt his business.

"I've had a few people feel a little disgruntled about it, but oh well,” he said.

For patrons at the Gateway Arch Museum, wearing a mask is optional if visitors are vaccinated, but it is still required on the museum's tram experience.

"Because that is part of transportation and the CDC guidelines are for transportation you must wear a face covering at all times,” said Pam Sanfilippo, Program Manager for Museum Services and Interpretation at Gateway Arch National Park.

She said it is very possible their COVID-19 protocols could require stricter mask-wearing policies if the current COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continue to rise.

"We watch those numbers closely, and should we identify that yes, things are getting worse in the St. Louis area, [if] the park service guidelines change, we would implement those changes,” said Sanfilippo.

A statement from County Executive Dr. Sam Page to News 4 says, in part:

In addition to our comprehensive vaccine education and access plan, we are urging masks to be worn indoors when you are uncertain of the vaccination status of everyone else in the room. We also advise wearing masks outside when it is not possible to social distance.

I take advice from our hospital systems that comprise the Pandemic Task Force and from our Department of Public Health. New public health orders by our Health Department are not on the table at this time.  I will support their decisions. An aggressive push to get folks vaccinated and wearing masks is the best way forward in curbing the virus.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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