New restrictions being implemented by the Laclede County Health Department are designed to protect the public as well as local businesses, according to Health Department Administrator Charla Baker.
The Health Department on Friday announced limits on social gatherings and prohibited dine-in service at restaurants and bars because of the novel coronavirus.
She acknowledged that not everyone will be happy with the restrictions.
“We’ve already heard that, but we’re just trying to do what is best for the public,” Baker said.
She said the intent is to limit social contact while still allowing businesses to operate without large groups of people.
“We are trying to implement social distancing and limiting the amount of people that are out,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage our food establishments to think of other ways they can continue their operation, but just not have any more than the 10 individuals in their facility.”
Baker said they are encouraging drive-through and curbside pickup, which would allow the public to use facilities without gathering in large crowds.
She said they had contacted food service providers before the decision was made public.
“We did try to make them aware so they could make some preparations,” she said.
She said the Health Department was taking into consideration the increasing number of cases, including 47 confirmed cases in Missouri Friday and the second death in the state from the novel coronavirus.
“We hope that our food establishment managers and owners would understand is that we are not trying to shut down your business, we’re just asking you to change methods of trying to take care of the community,” she said.
She said the restrictions are designed to not only protect the public, but also food establishments and their staff.
“Greene County had an individual that came into their county, ate at several places in Greene County and now we know that some of those individuals, employees who worked in those establishments now are quarantined and now possibly have tested positive,” she said. “So we are not only trying to protect the public, but also to protect the food establishments as well and their employees.”
She said people who contract the virus could be ill anywhere from two weeks up to six weeks or more before they recover.
“One of the things we would ask restaurant establishments, is would you risk having your staff out for that long if they become sick,” she said.
With the continued disease spread of COVID-19 across our nation, state, and now our local Region I; the Laclede County Health Department is taking additional measures to reduce the spread.
Please be advised, beginning immediately:
• Social gatherings whether private or public, be restricted to no more than 10 people. All public places shall institute appropriate health and safety protections including social distancing (requiring people to be at least six (6) feet apart; reducing the number of employees, customers, or other people present; and reducing face-to-face contact).
• Beginning at 12:01 AM on Saturday, March 21, 2020, the following public places are to be closed to entering, exiting, use and occupancy by members of the public as outline below:
o Restaurants, food establishments, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other public places offering food and/or beverages for on-premises consumption; and
o Bars, taverns, pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, clubs and other public places offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
These public places described above are encouraged to offer food/beverage service to the public using delivery service, window service, curb-side service, and/or drive-through service (if applicable), so long as every person involved implements appropriate precautions to decrease the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social -distancing techniques.
In offering food/beverage service, these public places may permit up to ten (10) members of the public at one time in their establishment for the purpose of picking up food/beverage orders, as long as all public is at least six (6) feet apart from other people while on the premises.
Locations that are not subject to these guidelines, at this time are:
• Public places that offer food/beverage service that is not for on-premises consumption (grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores and food pantries). Any portion of the premises that is available for on-premises consumption of food/beverage (booth, tables, benches) will comply to these guidelines.
• Healthcare facilities, mental health facilities, residential care facilities, and adult detention facilities.
• Crisis shelters or similar institutions.
The Health Official of the County of Laclede, Missouri has the authority pursuant to 19 CSR 20-20.040(2) (G) “Establish appropriate control measures which may include…the creation and enforcement of adequate orders to prevent the spread of the disease and other measures considered by the department and/or local health authority as appropriate disease control measures based upon the disease…and any other available information related to the…disease or infection;” and (E) Establish and maintain quarantine, isolation or other measures as required.” In addition, the Laclede County Food Regulation No. 14-01 includes the authority to cease food operations of a facility if an imminent health hazard exists. An establishment that would not comply with these proposed guidelines would be considered posing an imminent health hazard to our community in response to the COVID-19 disease situation.
All decisions being made at this point are extremely difficult, but determined necessary. We greatly appreciate all the establishments and organizations that have already taken their own voluntary steps to aid in the reduction of this disease spread.