Krewson, Page weighing risks of lifting stay-at-home orders

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ST. LOUIS – Pressure is building for St. Louis City and St. Louis County to return to some type of “new normal” and get people working.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joined St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Thursday in extending stay-at-home orders.

The extensions were indefinite but would likely stretch until at least mid-May, both Page and Krewson said.

They’d also started looking at how to reopen the region for business and get people back to work, Krewson said.

“I wish I could tell you exactly when this would be over,” she said.

Mid-May would make it seven weeks since most of the city and county closed up shop after shop. It could take businesses beyond the point of being able to return.

Downtown Clayton and Downtown St. Louis now seem more like ghost towns.

Hair care professionals are now petitioning Missouri Governor Mike Parson to allow them to go back to work.

Stylists at salon loft locations across the St. Louis area work out of separate suites, each with its own door. They feel they can wear masks, gloves, limit customers, and provide a sanitized environment that’s as safe as any grocery store or convenience store, if not safer.

“I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use masks, our guests wearing them and ourselves, and gloves. I think that would be helpful. A lot of us have kids to feed and bills to pay. Many of us really need to get back to work,” said Salon Lofts stylist Melanie Leinenger. “A lot of us don’t want to lose our homes. We want to keep our businesses.
If this is extended any longer, that’s a pretty big possibility.”

Public health officials still considered these kinds of close contact jobs to be too risky for the spread of COVID-19, Krewson said.

Regional health experts now agree social distancing has flattened the coronavirus curve in the region and infections may peak in the St. Louis area within 10 days.

According to the mayor, officials are now looking into how to restart businesses across the region and get people back to work.

“It won’t be flipping a switch … is it first that all outdoor jobs come back? Maybe. I’m just spit-balling this with you. All outdoor jobs come back, then maybe part of the office jobs come back. Maybe at some point, you’re able to go to a restaurant but perhaps there are more rules in place (like) spacing, gloves,” Krewson said. “We don’t want to lift this too soon and have a spike in the number of cases, in the number of people who are in hospitals, in ICU, and on ventilators. We also don’t want to have another wave.”

The stay-at-home extension was data-driven and would be evaluated continually, Krewson said. With no expiration date in place, it could be lifted before mid-May or extended beyond that time.

Two new provisions were included in the city:

  1. a new recommendation that everyone wears a mask when there’s a chance they may not be able to adhere to the social distancing guideline of remaining at least six feet away from other people
  2. a new requirement that all businesses still in operation, provide their workers with (PPE) personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves.

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