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CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Circuit Judge Michael Burton is pulling the plug on the eviction moratorium that’s been in place since the pandemic reached the metro area last March.

Burton put the moratorium into effect to be a shield for families to help them avoid being kicked out of their homes and apartments. But as of April 5, 600 people will be subject to eviction by the sheriff. Once the sheriff serves a tenant, they’ll have five days to leave.

Burton said a number of factors influenced his decision. He said sheriffs are now able to be vaccinated so they won’t be put in danger of contracting COVID-19 while serving eviction notices.

The judge said there is aid available for families and landlords. He said eviction moratoriums in other areas will end soon as well.

In addition to considering the welfare of the families, Burton said he has to consider the landlords, many of whom have gone without getting paid for months.

Not everyone is happy about the change. Empower Missouri, a housing advocacy group, said the decision will subject more families to being homeless.

But the head of Beyond Housing said he sees both sides of the issue. He said families are in a bad situation through no fault of their own. He also sees the plight of the landlords, some of whom have gone without getting paid.

The sheriff will get extra help from law enforcement to help service all those eviction notices.