‘No violations’ – St. Louis County restaurant allowed to remain open after visit from health inspector

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The showdown over bar and restaurant shutdowns in St. Louis County for failing to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions continued Wednesday.

A county health inspector came to possibly order the closure of the Acapulco Mexican restaurant on St. Charles Rock Road in St. Ann.

Linda Zegar, whose family owns the restaurant, was working when the inspector walked in with his clipboard.

“I thought he was going to close us. I was really, really scared,” she said.

After a quick look around, he wrote a brief report and handed it to her.

It read in part, “no violations” of the county’s Safer-at-Home order that bans indoor dining at bars/restaurants.

So, Acapulco gets to stay open for curbside, carry-out, and delivery service.

“We’re open, we’re open … I’m so happy,” Zegar said.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health ordered Satchmo’s, Final Destination, OT’s, and Bartolino’s South to close on Tuesday. They were obeying the closures, Wednesday, though Bartolino’s covered up the closure notice with a promise to its customers of a quick appeal and Satchmo’s owner sent a letter to the health department demanding an expedited hearing.

Owners and customers question the fairness and effective-ness of closing restaurants and bars while allowing stores, even casinos, to continue business indoors.

“You can wear a mask in a hardware store, picking out clothes, or gambling but when you’re sitting down to eat or drink in an enclosed space, you are creating several risks of transmission,” said Christopher Ave, communications director for the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “We absolutely want to see the restaurants’ plans to keep people safe. If those plans include indoor, in person dining, then we are not going to accept them.”

The St. Louis County Council approved a resolution to limit the county executive’s powers in matters such as this.

County Executive Sam Page stressed he was following science and studies that show the virus spreads when people are close together without masks; exactly what happens inside bars and restaurants.

He also stressed again that he was not acting alone.

“One person does not make these decisions. The decisions regarding public health orders are made by several doctors and public health experts in the health department with the advice of health systems … pandemic task force … the CDC,” Page said Wednesday.

There was no word of any new legal action in the fight against the closures.

The impacted bars/restaurants could very quickly submit plans to comply with restrictions and re-open right away, Ave said.

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