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Four St. Louis establishments told to close for two weeks over violations

Four St. Louis establishments told to close for two weeks over violations

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Four St. Louis bars, restaurants told to close for two weeks over social distancing, mask violations

A still of a video posted to Instagram on Saturday of a packed dance floor at the downtown restaurant and bar the Wheelhouse. The video was shared by Twitter user @And__Ark

Four St. Louis businesses have been ordered to close for two weeks due to violations of measures intended to combat the spread of the coronavirus, city officials said Tuesday.

The Wheelhouse bar and restaurant and the Start Bar in the 1000 block of Spruce Street, the Marquee Restaurant & Lounge at 1911 Locust Street and Big Daddy's in Laclede's Landing have been ordered to close, mayoral spokesman Jacob Long said.

A Marquee manager said Tuesday that she was unaware of any city letter ordering the closure. She said the bar was following health department guidelines. No one answered the phone at Big Daddy's, where the voicemail was full and not accepting new messages. No one immediately responded to a message left at the Start Bar. Wheelhouse owners or managers have not responded to a call and email Monday seeking comment.

City officials acted after videos appeared on social media over the weekend showing unmasked bar patrons talking and dancing in defiance of social distancing rules, including one video purporting to be from the Wheelhouse.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on Monday said, "This is a very serious step that we never wanted to have to take."

She said the approach was targeted and an effort to "avoid shutting down a whole class of businesses.”

Sheriff's deputies issued cease-and-desist orders to other businesses, officials said, instructing staff and management to require mask wearing by patrons older than nine, in accordance with a July 2 emergency order. Receiving letters in the last two weeks were the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Flamingo Bowl, Sports & Social bar and restaurant, and the Missouri Athletic Club, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Paul Filla, general manager of the Chase Park Plaza, said the letter he received Tuesday does not contain any detail about any alleged violation, or as he put it, “Who saw what, when for me to get cited.”

Filla said that 99.9% of guests have been on board with the Chase’s requirement to wear a mask indoors. Those who are spotted without a mask “graciously apologize and put it on,” he said.

Filla said the Chase was “embracing the notice as a vehicle to get better” about the health guidelines. The Chase is a 1.5 million square feet facility, Filla said, that includes a hotel, apartments, office and retail space, a fitness center, event spaces and restaurants.

None of the other businesses could be immediately reached for comment.

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