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St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann today issued new guidance on all St. Charles County residents, requiring them to remain within their residence or on the property surrounding their residence, except to engage in activities they deem necessary to their physical, mental or spiritual well-being, or for employment. Additionally, local retail stores and all other places of public accommodation must communicate social distancing requirements to customers. The restrictions are effective at 12:01 a.m., March 24, as a measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“The restrictions do not specify which businesses are essential,” says Ehlmann. “Businesses and residents, not County Government, should determine what is essential. There is no way government can be aware of the unique needs of every individual.

“As this pandemic worsens,” he says, “it is essential that government not get in the way of the essential supply chain that will deliver services and products to fight this pandemic, or in the way of individuals who have medical and other needs.” Ehlmann continued, “Businesses know that for the long-term good, we need to ‘flatten the curve’ and they will determine on their own that they need to close – either because people don’t see them as essential, or for the protection of their employees and customers.”

Ehlmann says, however, that stronger restrictions or mandates may be necessary in the future as COVID-19 continues to spread. “We need to maintain the confidence of our residents as, if this pandemic continues to worsen, County Government will be forced to take even stronger, more intrusive measures to protect people from contagion. We need to keep everyone’s trust in this crucial time.”

The restriction includes all incorporated and unincorporated areas of St. Charles County. Ehlmann stresses that social distancing is crucial. “The county has three positive cases just today that are community-acquired, meaning they are not related to travel,” he says. “We are getting reports that some businesses are doing a great job and others are not. All businesses need to enforce the 6-foot rule.”

Ehlmann said residents who have questions about what services are essential are encouraged to visit the numerous websites available suggesting how that decision could be made. For information and questions about COVID-19 please visit sccmo.org/COVID, or call the St. Charles County Department of Public Health Information Hotline at 636-949-1899, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.