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How the St. Louis City and County Orders may affect your business

Chuck Poplstein Cliff Godiner Amy Oslica Dougherty March 23, 2020

On March 21, 2020, both the City and County of St. Louis announced “Stay at Home” Orders that will go into effect on March 23, 2020. The Orders place a number of restrictions on businesses and individuals, generally requiring non-essential or non-exempt businesses to cease all but a few so-called Minimum Business Operations. And while “essential” businesses can continue to operate, they must comply with specified “Social Distancing Requirements.” The attorneys at Thompson Coburn can help you make sense of the Orders and how they will affect your business’s operations going forward. Toward that end, we provide this basic overview.

What businesses can continue to operate? 

The Orders require business that are not “essential” to cease all but Minimum Basic Operations. Minimum Basic Operations include all work by employees from their homes as well as the activities necessary to:

  • Maintain the value of the business’s inventory;

  • Provide security;

  • Process payroll or employee benefits; or

  • Facilitate working from home for the business’s employees.

Each Order then goes on to list “essential” businesses that may continue to operate independent of these minimum operations. Unfortunately, the lists are not the same. The County Order lists 40 categories of essential businesses; the City Order lists 25. Not surprisingly, both lists include healthcare operations, grocery stores and food production as essential businesses. A non-exhaustive list of the other “essential” businesses include:

  • Construction services;

  • Plumbers, electricians and exterminators;

  • Hardware stores;

  • Financial institutions such as banks, payroll processors and asset managers;

  • Manufacturers and suppliers of items necessary for social distancing recommendations, such as hand sanitizers and other hygiene, health and cleaning products;

  • Emergency repair and safety services for essential infrastructure;

  • Transportation services;

  • Defense and national security-related operations;

  • Labor union essential activities;

  • Restaurants (for carry-out and delivery); and

  • Businesses that supply Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate.

The City Order states that the City’s Director of Health & Hospitals/Health Commissioner may make other exceptions.

The County Order also requires essential businesses to comply with Social Distancing Requirements (i.e., six-foot distance between individuals, hand washing for 20 seconds, regularly cleaning high touch surfaces, not shaking hands, etc.) whenever possible.

Our Labor & Employment attorneys have been hard at work this past week dealing with employment issues associated with similar shut down orders and are available to discuss strategies and protocols to deal with these orders and effects associated with this unique emergency, including benefits, furloughs, plant closing notices, reductions in wages and the new paid sick leave/family and medical leave benefits. We can also assist in drafting communications to employees and, if needed, documentation that employees performing essential businesses services can carry with them in the event that their activities are questioned. We are available to assist you with these challenging issues. Please contact any of our attorneys listed on our website.

Chuck Poplstein, Cliff Godiner and Amy Oslica Dougherty are attorneys in Thompson Coburn’s Labor & Employment practice group.

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