St. Louis County restaurants may resume indoor dining on January 4, with restrictions

In a press conference Monday morning, St. Louis County executive Sam Page announced that the county’s restaurants and bars may have limited indoor dining options as of Monday, January 4th.

Since November 17, when the St. Louis County government demanded a four-week ban on indoor dining, the county restaurants and bars have been restricted to pickup, delivery, and outdoor dining. On December 16, the county extended the ban for another two weeks, but Page said the county will continue to monitor the numbers closely and “make appropriate adjustments in the future.”

During today’s news conference, Page reported that restaurants with additional restrictions may reopen as new cases continue to emerge in St. Louis County. Brief reference was made to five key changes, with details of the new health regime being given below.

  • Occupancy: Restaurants and bars can reopen at 25 percent of fire capacity or with tables 6 feet apart, whichever is lower. (Banquet parties would be similarly restricted, with gatherings limited to 50 people.) No more than 10 people can sit at a table. Parties larger than 10 must remain seated at their respective tables. If a grocery store has a bar, the same capacity constraints apply. In addition, customers have to sit at a table and stay seated while consuming drinks. At the bar, customers must be seated 6 feet from other guests. Guests at the bar are limited to two people, and there must be a non-porous physical barrier between the bartender and customers.
  • Face coverings: All restaurant and bar customers must wear face covers when entering and exiting the building and when visiting the restrooms of the restaurant. In addition, customers must wear face covers when interacting with or being served by a restaurant employee.
  • Information: All restaurants and drinking places must post face cover requirements, proper signage related to COVID-19, and information on reporting violations.
  • Curfew: Restaurants and bars must stop serving indoor and outdoor customers at 10:00 p.m. Customers must leave the indoor or outdoor facility by 10 p.m. The pick-up and delivery service is not subject to the 10 p.m. curfew.
  • Contact tracking: All dining and drinking establishments must have record keeping systems in place to assist public health officials in tracking contacts, using the till system or some other method of recording reservations and phone numbers for tracking purposes.
  • Outdoor dining: Outdoor facilities must operate with the same table restrictions as indoor restaurants and drinking areas. Outer tents must meet all of the St. Louis County Department of Public Works requirements, local community requirements, or fire protection district requirements.
  • Additional precautions: Customers are not permitted to use pool tables, dartboards, arcade games, or other shared recreational equipment that may be available. Additional instructions for facilities regarding cleaning, PPE requirements, self-service parameters and more can be found on the county’s website.

At the press conference, Page also warned that “despite these protocols, indoor dining continues to pose a significant risk to customers and employees”.

Page said his office and the St. Louis Department of Health worked closely with a group of restaurant consultants to develop a plan to safely reopen indoor restaurants. The advisory board met twice last week, once this week, and another meeting is planned for next week.

“We’ve created a way forward,” says Herbie’s restaurant owner Aaron Teitelbaum, a panel member. “We are making progress and we all believe this will continue.”

This is a developing story. More details will be added as they become available.

George Mahe

Mahe is the restaurant editor for St. Louis Magazine. Originally a fussy eater, he has owned or operated restaurants for most of his life. He started reviewing her for SLM in 1991.

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December 30, 2020

11:47 am

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