St. Louis restaurants are pushing back against new COVID-19 restrictions they claim are unfair and unnecessary.
If one this has become clear, it’s that COVID-19 isn’t going away any time soon. Many areas of the country where the virus seemed to be under control just weeks ago are now debating over new lockdowns and restrictions. In fact, some cities and counties, like St. Louis County, recently announced a fresh batch of restrictions for its citizens, many of whom are growing weary with pandemic fatigue. As part of the new restrictions, St. Louis County has ordered “all restaurants to close their indoor dining service for four weeks.” However, unlike the first round of lockdowns back in March and April, some business owners are pushing back. Earlier today “more than 100 St. Louis County restaurants decided to file a temporary restraining order against the new COVID restrictions set to begin on Tuesday.”
Even though their dining rooms will be forced to close, restaurants and bars will still be allowed to offer outdoor dining, curbside pickup, and to-go services. But for an industry still struggling from the last round of restrictions, the latest announcement isn’t acceptable for many St. Louis restaurant owners. One of the restaurants pushing back is Bartolino’s Restaurant. In a Facebook post, it said it plans to join other restaurants in the suit. The Facebook post said:
“We, and other Family owned Restaurants in St. Louis County are not going quietly! You have been there for us, we are going to be there for you! Sam Page’s overreach with the arbitrary closure of indoor dining for county restaurants and bars is irresponsible.
The final weeks of the year are consistently one of the most important times of the year for restaurant employees. Our employees are FAMILY, and Sam Page took a direct uppercut towards their livelihood. We have partnered with other local county restaurants to file a lawsuit against Sam Page, and plan to REMAIN OPEN for SAFE Indoor Dining.”
Other restaurant owners argue the restrictions “are unfair and could put them out of business.” The owner of Bartolino’s, Mike Saracino, said he was stunned when he got the news about the new restrictions. He added that he and others in the industry “feel it’s unfair to ban indoor dining in St. Louis County when diners can go to St. Charles, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties.” He said that outdoor dining won’t be a viable option for many restaurants as the weather gets colder. To make matters worse, many in the industry are “worried about the thousands of restaurant employees who can’t get PPE money or additional unemployment as they did during the spring shut down.”
St. Louis County is just one of many counties, cities, and states implementing new restrictions. Last week, Chicago announced a new stay-home order, and just today, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced new restrictions on restaurants and bars, schools, sports, indoor and outdoor gatherings, and more.