St. Louis County Amends Guidelines and Re-Opening Orders in Effort to Further Ease Restrictions on Individuals and Businesses

Effective June 1, 2020, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (“DPH”) again amended its Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening (the “Amended Order”). DPH announced that this Amended Order further “eases restrictions on individuals and Businesses,” but it continues to encourage individuals to remain at home when possible.

The guidelines governing most “Businesses” (as defined) have not changed from the May 18, 2020 DPH order discussed in our prior Client Alert. Among other things, the Amended Order continues to require compliance with Social Distancing Requirements and Disinfection Processes, as defined in the Order, plus training and daily screening of employees. Businesses must continue to furnish face coverings, and they must still be worn at work unless a medical reason prevents it or the employee works in an enclosed area. Enforcement mechanisms generally remain in place.

Additional business-specific operating standards, however, are rolling out and more are anticipated. Over the past weekend, and as recently as yesterday, DPH published via its website various new sets of “COVID-19 Safe Operating Guidelines” for: Summer Day Camps, Public Water Recreation Facilities, Youth and Adult Sports, and Child Care Programs. Depending upon your Business – particularly if retail or public-facing– this site should be checked often.

The Amended Order does clarify that, unless a Business is specifically required by business-specific operating standards to follow gathering size limitations (applicable to groups of 10 or more), such gathering size limitations will not apply. Rather, if applicable based on the Guidelines updated on June 1, 2020 and discussed below, the Business will only be subject to limiting the number of individuals to either 25% of occupancy capacity limitations if the facility is over 10,000 square feet in area, or 10% if the facility is under 10,000 square feet.

Finally, the Amended Order includes new language requiring all Businesses to cooperate with DPH in respect to contact investigations and notifications to employees or volunteers regarding possible exposure to persons testing positive for COVID-19.

On June 1, 2020, DPH also published Guidelines for Businesses Restricted by Capacity Limitations (“Capacity Guidelines”) which, among other things, provides examples of the Businesses that are subject to occupancy capacity limitations. These include grocery stores, garden centers, hair salons, gyms and fitness centers, restaurants and bars, and pools. They also include churches and apply to religious, spiritual, and memorial services. These Capacity Guidelines further clarify that certain Businesses (such as hospitals, urgent care centers, shelters, airports, daycare facilities, and professional businesses that do not engage in direct interactions with the public) are not subject to occupancy capacity limitations.

Under the Amended Order, more Businesses are also permitted to re-open subject to compliance with any applicable business-specific operating standards. For example:

  • summer day camps and fitness training conducted outside without shared equipment (subject to a gathering size limitation) may begin on June 1, 2020;
  • bars and other Businesses that sell primarily alcoholic beverages may re-open on June 8, 2020;
  • public pools, sports, sport courts, athletic leagues, movie theaters, bowling alleys, banquet centers, community centers, gyms and fitness centers may re-open on June 15, 2020.

Polling locations are also allowed to re-open and operate as of June 1, 2020.

Some Businesses, such as museums, casinos, concert venues, mass sporting events and other entertainment and attraction venues, will be required to submit a plan for re-opening to DPH and obtain approval before they can re-open after June 15, 2020.

If you have questions regarding the Amended Order or re-opening given COVID-19 considerations, please reach out to one of our Labor & Employment attorneys.