St. Louis County business owners confused over whether mask mandate remains

Missouri

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The owner of the Acapulco Restaurant and Lounge wants to know whether masks are required inside her business located on St. Charles Rock Road.  

Ernestine Zegar knew a mask mandate went into effect for St. Louis City and County Monday.

Then she heard about the St. Louis County Council voting 5-2 to overturn the mandate Tuesday.  

“It’s very confusing for me and our employees,” Zegar said. “I had them wear a mask last night, and today, we heard you don’t have to wear a mask.” 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page insists the vote has not changed the health order.   

“I want to make it clear, a mask mandate remains in place in St. Louis County,” he said.   

The county executive believes the mandate, along with increased vaccinations, will help keep businesses from having to shut down and allow for students to be in classrooms.   

“If we don’t make some decisions fast, we’re going to be in a bad spot,” Page said.  

St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch said the mandate is no longer in effect.   

“If businesses want to decide on their own, that they want to require masks, they certainly can do that,” he said. “They don’t need any permission from anyone.” 

Schnuck Markets released this statement when asked if the company would continue to follow the mandate:

“We are monitoring the St. Louis County situation, and at this time, the county remains in a ‘high’ transmission area according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker map. Aligning with CDC guidance, this means our requirements for teammates and vendors to wear facemasks, whether they are vaccinated or not, would remain for indoor public places even if the St. Louis County mandate is overturned. We are continuing to offer customers complimentary facemasks.” 

Dierbergs Markets sent this statement regarding the order: 

“Currently we have door signs posted at our locations in St. Louis County complying with the health order that began on the 26th. At this time we will continue to follow the order that’s in place.” 

Tuesday’s vote by the St. Louis County Council included some emotional testimony. The acting St. Louis County public health director was accused of directing an obscene gesture to opponents of a mask mandate.   

Dr. Faisal Khan acknowledged raising his middle finger in the direction of an individual he says threatened him.   

Khan detailed the incident in a letter sent to St. Louis County Council Chair Rita Days. He said he was physically assaulted and on the receiving end of racial slurs.       

Earlier in the day, Page was asked about report Khan who used an obscene gesture. The county executive said he would not want to see unprofessional behavior from anyone on his staff and promised to look into the incident.  

“There was a lot of emotion in the room, but I would expect my staff to stay above that,” Page said.  

Khan is currently the acting health director. A vote by the St. Louis County Council would be required before he could become the director.   

Before Khan’s letter was made public, Fitch said Khan’s use of an obscene gesture needs to be examined.  

“This is something that the county executive since he reports to him, needs to take up and report back to the council what actions he took,” he said.  

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