CoronavirusNewsThe SouthSider

County, city announce eased COVID-19 health rules

CLAYTON – In a significant loosening of COVID-19 health guidelines, St. Louis nd St. Louis County are lifting their capacity limitations for all venues. However, the requirement for face coverings and six feet of social distancing are still in place in those establishments. 

Those were among the health directives announced by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page in a press briefing on Monday morning on Page’s Facebook page.

The two also announced that they are lifting midnight closing requirements for bars and restaurants that had been allowed to stay open until 3 a.m. Now they can gain stay open until 3.

In addition, Page and Jones gave new guidelines for those who have gotten all of their shots. People must keep their masks on inside unless they are fully vaccinated (that is, at least 14 days have passed since they’ve gotten the one-shot vaccine or have gotten the second dose of two-shot vaccine). Face masks aren’t required outdoors among people who are all fully vaccinated.

“This is a new normal, not a return to normal,” Jones said.

“Over the last few months, we’ve seen the supply of vaccines increase to the level that they are now accessible to everyone,” Page said. “It’s brought hope to ease anxiety and allowed us to ease some of our restrictions. Today we’ve come together to take the next step in reopening St. Louis city and county.”

Page also acknowledged the overwhelming compliance of residents and businesses with public health protocols. That and the wide access to vaccines have enabled the county and city to take the next step in easing restrictions, he said.

Gov. Mike Parson’s decision to allow counties and cities to respond in their own ways to the pandemic has created a confusing patchwork of public health protocols, Page said. Thousands of people a day go between the city and the county to work, to attend school, to worship and do other things, he noted, and the responses of the city and the county have been similar, but not in sync. 

“We are the heart and the soul of our region,” Page said. “Together, we must address our challenges. Together, we know we can move the needle on many complex issues that we face, including public health.”

Both Jones and Page encouraged those who haven’t gotten the shots to get vaccinated. 

Everyone is welcome to visit FEMA’s Community Vaccination Center at the Dome at America’s Center downtown, 901 N. Broadway, to get their first or second Pfizer shots, Jones said.

The center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is free at Sixth and Cole streets. Those who take public transportation can ask for a free pass for the day they come back for their second shot.

The Dome vaccination program is open to everyone, not just city residents. 

Also, the St. Louis Fire Department is administering vaccines to homebound residents who aren’t able to get to the Dome without help. Those who want this help should call the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging at 314-612-5918.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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