Understanding Coronavirus Restrictions as St. Louis Looks to Reopen

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Understanding Coronavirus Restrictions as St. Louis Looks to Reopen

As the COVID-19 pandemic retreats somewhat, the greater bi-state area has begun to cautiously reopen. People heading out of their homes face a patchwork of varying restrictions from one jurisdiction to the next.

These restrictions may come from a statute or local ordinance. Or they may be there because of an executive order from the mayor or the governor. And, of course, private businesses may have their own restrictions in place.

Why are the restrictions there at all?

The intent of these restrictions is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing and wearing masks are not foolproof ways of preventing the spread of the disease, but they can significantly reduce your risk.

However, some restrictions have the additional purpose of protecting people and businesses from facing a lawsuit.

Generally speaking, businesses are required to exercise “ordinary care” at all times. “Ordinary care” can be described as the care that a reasonable person would take under similar circumstances.

During an emergency, what qualifies as “ordinary care” can change. Businesses and nonprofits, concerned about potential liability for their actions (or their inactions) during the pandemic, want protection from a lawsuit if somebody gets sick. Part of that protection comes from observing laws and/or company policies.

Although it might be a little confusing, there are some general guidelines across the board that people can mostly rely on as they head out into the real world.

Social distancing is still in place.

“Six feet apart” is the new normal as businesses crack open their doors. You should expect:

  • Fewer people allowed in a business at one time.
  • Requirements to remain six feet apart wherever possible.
  • Your favorite restaurants might reopen, but many will continue with curbside-only service or may expand outdoor seating to accommodate social distancing rules.

Respect the mask.

“No shirt, no shoes, no service” has become such a commonplace business policy that most people do not give it a second thought. Many businesses have temporarily added masks to this policy. They may also require (or be required by law or executive order) to have their employees or customers wear masks.

Nevertheless, some people have declared masks as a new symbol of tyranny. Not only are some customers refusing to wear masks, they are also harassing, attacking, and even killing store employees who have to enforce the rules.

Store employees, clerks, and security guards do not make the rules. Please do not take out your frustration on people for just doing their job.

Hourly restrictions for vulnerable populations will likely continue.

A store policy to reserve certain hours for senior citizens or those with compromised immune systems allows the business to serve their most vulnerable customers while maintaining heightened sanitary conditions. (And no, it is not “age discrimination.”)

When in doubt, call ahead.

Not every business will choose to reopen, or will reopen at full capacity. Call ahead or go online before you make the trip. It will save you time and frustration.

Remember — wash your hands often. Stay home if you feel sick or if you have somebody in your household who has been exposed. And minimize travel as much as you can.

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