The city of St. Louis and St. Louis County have become the latest areas in the state to require people to wear masks in public spaces to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The city and county’s orders go into effect Friday morning for an undisclosed length of time. They require face coverings indoors at all times and outdoors when social distancing cannot be achieved.
By requiring face masks and coverings, officials in the city and county hope to slow the spread of the virus while still keeping businesses open.
“We want businesses and restaurants to stay open,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a press release. “We want to continue to reopen and return to more normal activities, but we cannot do that unless everyone follows the same guidelines and proven practices to protect themselves and others from spreading COVID-19.”
There are some exceptions to the requirement. Children under 9 and those with health conditions that prevent them from safely wearing the masks will be exempt from the order. Additionally, those who are actively engaging in exercise can remove their masks.
The announcement comes just days after Kansas City enacted a mask order. Both Columbia and Springfield are considering similar orders.
Missouri this week reached a grim milestone, reaching 1,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19. The state has seen nearly 22,000 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic, with an increase of almost 10% in the last week.
“Success in keeping the transmission rate as low as possible and ensuring our area hospitals can safely and effectively treat all patients, including COVID-19 patients, requires the community’s help to prevent spread of the virus,” Dr. Alex Garza, head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and chief medical officer at SSM Health, said in the release. “However, as the science has shown, we only realize the benefit of wearing masks or coverings if everyone participates. We need everyone. It’s that simple.”