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St. Louis Mayor Says Future Of Dine-In Eating At Local Restaurants Still Uncertain

March 16, 2020 Lyda Krewson
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

One day after regional leaders announced broad new rules to limit gatherings in the St. Louis area to 50 people or fewer, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson stressed their importance in “flattening the curve” of infections caused by the coronavirus across the U.S.

“It seems rather extreme to many, many people, but this came down as a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control,” Krewson said. “What does that mean? That means church: 50 people. That means casinos: 50 people. That means a wedding or a funeral — this is tough stuff. Fifty people. … We’re just trying to get the word out and be clear with people that this is a very serious situation.”    

The rules will be in place for at least eight weeks.

And Krewson stressed that while restaurants and bars are still open, they are subject to the 50-person limit at any point in time. Government officials are also recommending that eateries move tables and other furniture so there is a six-foot space between diners.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Krewson addressed restaurateurs’ questions about whether the region will follow the lead of Illinois and Ohio and shut down on-site dining. “The truth is we don’t know the answer to that. I hope not. But we do not know the answer to that. … 

“There are members of the medical community — some are pushing for that; some are not,” she continued. “We are being very seriously advised by the head of BJC, SSM and Mercy. They were all in the meeting we had yesterday. We really are trying to be very … this is about science, this is not about politics. And we can’t have it be about politics. We have to take the necessary steps to keep people safe.”

Listen to the complete conversation here:

In response to a question from a listener, Krewson acknowledged that local libraries are likely to close in the coming days. “I think the libraries are planning to close, and to focus their efforts on the online, and downloadable material,” she said. “And certainly that is difficult, because a lot of people use the library to get access to the internet, who don’t have it otherwise.”

Krewson said she had no plans to shut down City Hall. “We are the government. We have to be open if we can be.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.