(AP) — The St. Louis Zoo plans to welcome visitors again on June 13, though with enhanced measures that seek to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In a press release, the zoo said: “First, in order to better ensure good social distancing, the Zoo will limit attendance and require timed, free reservations in order to enter the Zoo. The Zoo will be open seven days a week and guests can make reservations at stlzoo.org beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 8. The Zoo also will provide a phone number for those unable to access the Zoo’s website.”
Zoo staff will be required to wear facial coverings, as will guests over the age of 9, except those with excused medical conditions. Visitors may remove or lower the masks when eating or drinking but must maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
“Face coverings can help minimize virus transmission from asymptomatic individuals,” St. Louis Zoo President Jeffrey Bonner said in the statement. “Keeping our animal and veterinary care staff safe and protected is the best measure to keep our animals safe and at minimal risk of exposure to a virus that we know very little about.”
Routinely, every new animal at the zoo – such as the white ibis seen below – is examined and quarantined for a minimum of 30 days before going to its new Zoo home.
“On behalf of everyone at the Saint Louis Zoo, we appreciate your support and we look forward to seeing you soon,” Bonner added.
The animals may be looking forward to it, too. Here’s a short video of Kali, the polar bear, cruising through her pool:
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Zoo opened Saturday; some summer camps and swimming pools there are also opening.
Nearer to home, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Wednesday that summer camps would probably be able to open starting June 1. County officials are still working on guidelines. A news release from the county said officials were hoping to allow pools to open in early June, though a specific start date had not been set.
St. Louis County has released few details about how summer camps will operate in what Page described as the “new normal,” but some contact sports may be limited or prohibited.
St. Louis city and county have taken the brunt of the coronavirus in Missouri, accounting for more than half of the state’s 11,080 confirmed cases and about two-thirds of the 616 deaths. While most of the state reopened May 4, St. Louis and St. Louis County began a phased-in reopening approach on Monday.
State Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, is urging the state health department to drop a proposed regulation that would give local health departments permanent authority to close schools, churches and other gatherings. A March 20 emergency order gave local departments that power during the coronavirus pandemic, Onder said.
“Whether or not this power granted by the March 20th emergency order was well-advised, we do not believe local health authorities should be granted such power carte blanche going forward,” the letter, signed by Onder and 18 Republican colleagues, said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
MetroSTL.com staff contributed to this report.