ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There may be a breakthrough as soon as Tuesday in the battle over St. Louis County’s ban on indoor dining at restaurants. It has been a bitter battle since the ban took effect about six weeks ago.
As Fox2/News11 first reported then, a group of restaurants, including Herbie’s in Clayton, launched the #StaySafeStayHome campaign, hoping to find common ground with county health officials.
It appears to be working, though perhaps not soon enough.
“Christmas is different for our employees this year. There’s no doubt about that. It’s hard,” said Aaron Teitelbaum, Herbie’s owner. “For me, as a restaurant owner, it’s hard because I’m not going to go hungry tonight but a lot of my staff might.”
With only outdoor dining, he’s done his best to spread out hours among his 40 workers to try to keep them all afloat financially.
The past six weeks of the county’s “Safer At Home” order, with its ban on all indoor dining, has been sad, even cruel; seeing all of that empty space day after day inside restaurants after owners had put so much into erecting plexiglass dividers, improving air quality, water treatment, sanitizing, and social distancing.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page blames an explosion in COVID-19 transmission for the ban.
Daily new cases in the county went from 140 in early Oct. to 804 on Nov. 17, the first day of the ban, he said.
The number had fallen to 503 this week, Page said.
So, county health officials have submitted a plan with new indoor dining restrictions to an advisory group of restaurant owners. That advisory group will meet with those health officials Tuesday to hopefully come to an agreement on restrictions and allow indoor dining is as little as two weeks.
“We’re starting to see a flattening of the curve in St. Louis County,” Page said, Monday. “We’re still not there, yet, but we’re starting to see a flattening. So, we want to make sure we’re having these conversations now about what it would look like in the future, expecting those numbers to continue in the right direction.”
“I have a good feeling. I woke up with a lot of hope today,” Teitelbaum said.
We should know specifics on the new restrictions after tomorrow’s meeting, he said.
This could be considered a sign of cooler heads prevailing in contrast with the health department shutting down restaurants for not complying and another group of restaurants owners taking the county to court to lift the ban during the six weeks of “Safer At Home.”