ST. LOUIS – City health officials have decided that it’s finally safe enough for most people to stop wearing face masks even indoors.
The COVID-19 mask mandate will end Sunday, March 6.
The Health Department made the decision not to ask the Board of Aldermen to extend the mandate because of recent drops in confirmed cases, COVID-19 hospitalizations, and the positivity rate in the St. Louis region. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recently relaxed its guidelines for dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
City health officials still recommend that people in high risk groups such as the elderly, immunocompromised, and more, wear masks in public spaces to protect themselves and others.
The Department of Health will be monitoring the course of the pandemic and might need to adjust policy again to match changed circumstances.
“I understand that transitions are challenging, especially in a pandemic where they are often sudden,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “The priority must still be a community harm reduction approach because we are still not out of the woods.”
“The policies we have implemented – from masking to a vaccine and testing requirement for city workers – has helped save lives in our city,” Mayor Tishaura Jones said. “St. Louisans worked together to move key metrics, like hospitalization rates and new case counts, in the right direction, but we have to keep protecting each other; testing, handwashing, staying home when sick, as well as vaccination and boosting [www.vaccines.gov] remain critical tools to help to protect our families and communities. I encourage St. Louisans to respect the personal choice of those who continue wearing masks in public spaces, and if you have not yet been vaccinated or boosted, make sure you do so as soon as you can.”
The Department is highly recommending that people continue to wear masks indoors especially if in high risk groups, such as the elderly, residents of congregate living facilities, people with pre-existing medical conditions, the immunocompromised, children below the age of 5 that are not eligible for vaccination, and children who are not eligible for boosters. The Department of Health is working with schools to put safety plans in place that may require the wearing of masks in certain situations.
City Hall and city offices will continue to require employees and visitors to these locations to wear masks in indoor common areas and spaces.