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POST-DISPATCH: No school, no social gatherings of more than 50 across St. Louis as coronavirus fight escalates

No school, no social gatherings of more than 50 across St. Louis as coronavirus fight escalates

ST. LOUIS — Area officials have banned events and social gatherings of more than 50 people across St. Louis city and county, St. Charles County, St. Clair County and Madison County in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, a statement announced Sunday evening.

Officials also are recommending that public, private, charter and parochial schools in all five jurisdictions close by Wednesday. Illinois schools already had been ordered closed until March 30 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday.

Although many school districts start spring break Monday, most area schools announced plans to close from Wednesday until at least April 3, including the Archdiocese of St. Louis Catholic schools. All school activities and competitions are also canceled.

Jefferson County public schools will close Tuesday and remain closed until April 3, officials said.

“The decision to close our school districts was extremely difficult, made in consultation with all area superintendents and out of an abundance of caution for our families,” a joint statement reads. “Individual school districts will be in contact with their communities to provide additional information regarding ongoing learning plans, as well as social services for those in need,” including free meals for students who qualify.

Of the 127 Missouri residents tested for COVID-19, five have tested positive including two in St. Louis County, according to state health officials.

The ban is expected to last at least eight weeks, on the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The recommended ban on social gatherings includes things like conferences, festivals, concerts and weddings but does not include businesses.

Gov. Mike Parson issued a statement Sunday evening to “strongly urge” groups to cancel public events with 50 individuals or more “with the exception of educational institutions, daycare facilities, and business operations.”

The closure of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Missouri is “under consideration,” local officials said, while Pritzker issued the closure order on Sunday for dining in at Illinois restaurants.

City Museum, the St. Louis Aquarium and the St. Louis Science Center all announced closures through March 31. Public libraries remain open.

The operators of Tamm Avenue Bar in Dogtown announced Sunday that the bar will not be open on St. Patrick’s Day, following the cancellation of the neighborhood’s parade and festival.

“Our staff and customers’ health and safety is our main concern,” owner Bob Brazell posted on Facebook.

HandleBar in the Grove also announced Sunday that they would be closing after business hours on Monday, and would remain closed for an unspecified period of time.

Fields Foods announced that shopping would be limited to customers over the age of 60 from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at their Lafayette Square location “as an added precaution for seniors during this health crisis,” a statement from the business read. The grocery store will also limit the number of certain sanitizing and paper products that can be purchased.

This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.

Jack Suntrup of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story.

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