‘A positive step in the right direction’ – St. Louis County lifts indoor dining ban

Missouri

BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, Mo. – Monday evening marked the first night in several weeks for indoor dining at all St. Louis County restaurants and bars.

In Breckenridge Hills, OT’s Bar was one of four establishments that health officials ordered to close completely in November after officials said they were ignoring COVID safety guidelines. Not every establishment agrees with that. Still, OT’s is glad to be back in business for indoor dining like other places.

Bartolino’s south was ordered closed in November. The owner had no comment for FOX 2 on Monday night.

“I’m just thankful we can still open the doors,” Debbie Field, wife of OT’s owner, said.

At Final Destination, folks said they will follow health guidelines.

The owner of Satchmo’s, Ben Brown, was not rejoicing.

“I’d describe it as a positive step in the right direction but we have a ways to go; it’s still not sustainable,” he said.

Establishments make their money selling booze, and under new guidelines they have to close at 10 p.m. Some customers like to drink into the early morning hours. It’s a big loss for bar owners.

“It’s going to be devastating to some people, especially coming off six weeks-plus of no dining service at all,” Brown said.

Restaurants are limited to about 25 percent capacity. Regular customers turned out to support Satchmo’s. Jami Hamby was there with her family.

“We really like this place and we wanted to make sure they make it through,” Hamby said.

One man said he doesn’t mind a new requirement. Customers have to give personal information to the restaurant in case health officials need to do contact tracing for a COVID exposure.

“I don’t feel it’s infringing on you or anything it’s going to have to happen nowadays we’ll have to get used to it,” customer Robert Wade said.

There’s no telling when everything will return to normal for bars and restaurants.

“We must continue with some of those restrictions until our vaccine is widely available later this year,” St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said.

If COVID infections, deaths, and hospitalizations worsen, then tougher restrictions could be put back in place.

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