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Shutdown looms for businesses ignoring COVID-19 rules

CITY HALL – Businesses that flout public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic are going to be shut down, city officials pledged Monday.

Some of the businesses on that list got warning letters from the city department of health but continued to disregard rules that require people to socially distance and wear masks. Photos, videos, social media posts and personal observations have helped identify businesses that aren’t enforcing safety rules, thus threatening the health of patrons, workers and others. Those businesses will be closed for at least 14 days, officials said in a statement.

“So many of our businesses including bars, restaurants, large venues, retail stores, and offices, have gone to great lengths to strictly comply with our mandates to protect their workers and the public. They’re doing it right,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said. “Establishments who continue to openly flout these rules and endanger the public’s health and safety can no longer stay open.”

Krewson added via Twitter, “This is both reckless and unfair to other businesses working hard to do it right.”

The goal of the two-week closure is to get those establishments to buy into the need for safety measures.

Officials are keeping an eye on all businesses and are poised to send out more cease and desist letters; they’re also exploring additional enforcement measures. Any additional non-compliant establishments that are identified run the risk of also being shut down.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has been soaring among people in their 20s and 30s. Of the city’s total positive case count in the last 30 days, people under age 40 make up 64 percent.

“Physically distancing ourselves from one another and wearing a face covering are proven means of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, the city’s acting director of health. “There has to be changes in our behavior if we are going to slow the rise of infections that we are seeing in the metropolitan area. The data is telling us that enough individuals are not changing their behavior. We will take the necessary actions to protect the health of residents and visitors.”

Echols reminded residents to keep all personal social gatherings, even at home or outside, to very small, limited groups; to wear face masks; and to maintain the recommended six-foot social distance.

Officials are asking people to continue reporting violations of the city’s COVID-19 public health orders by calling 314-622-4800 or going online.

Industry-specific business guidance and standards can also be found on the City’s website.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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