Missouri orders residents to avoid gatherings of 10, schools to remain temporarily closed

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has ordered people to keep away from gatherings of 10 or more and announced schools should remain temporarily closed in an announcement on March 21.

Until now, Parson had left the choice up to individual counties, saying that local municipalities would know what is best for its residents.

All 555 Missouri school districts had already voluntarily stopped in-class instruction for the time being. This order would make sure they stay closed until at least April 6.

Parson elaborated on social gatherings of 10, saying they were defined as “every plan or spontaneous event or meeting that would bring together more than 10 people in a single space at a given time.”

In a statement, the governor’s office said the order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

However, the order banned “eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts” in-house for the entire state.

“These numbers are going to go up,” Parson said. “This order is intended to keep Missourians safe and healthy…It’s important to abide by these rules that we’re making.”

He also said people will not be able to visit people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities while the order is in effect, unless they are providing essential services. If anyone has a question about if they are allowed in a facility, they should contact that facility before going there.

Licensed daycares will be allowed to remain open. Officials said the Department of Health and Senior Services has created a program to help take care of young children. Learn more from the department’s website, here.

On churches, nothing has been announced yet. However, Parson said he will be talking with leaders to consider how churches can be part of the solution and how religious leaders can alter their services.

Parson originally announced he would be limiting gatherings on March 20.

St. Louis has taken precautions a step further, announcing a “stay-at-home” order to begin on Monday. The order follows several other states who have also implemented the order.

Parson said Illinois’ decision to order a shelter-in-place has not affected his decisions or actions.

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