A new order from the city-county health director puts steep restrictions on the operations of Columbia and Boone County bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other small businesses.

Stephanie Browning, director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, issued the city order Friday evening and later updated it to apply to the entire county. It took effect at 2 a.m. Saturday and is sweeping in scope.

The order restricts occupancy at many small businesses, including staff, to no more than 10 people. That includes bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms and others. The full transcript of the order is published with this story.

Hospital cafeterias, grocery stores, pharmacies, child care and crisis centers, detention facilities and food banks are exempt.

While the order puts severe restrictions on indoor occupancy at smaller businesses, it allows restaurants and food retailers to offer delivery, drive-thru and carry-out services. The order states bars can do the same, as long as they operate within state and local laws.

Scores of businesses in the city and county already have made those adjustments.

The order prohibits "intentional" gatherings of more than 10 people, whether public or private. It exempts such gatherings in places of business not open to the public.

The Columbia City Council declared a state of emergency in the city Monday night in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It authorized many of the restrictions Browning ordered Friday.

The council’s order gave Browning and City Manager John Glascock the authority to enact emergency measures as necessary, but they will issue written orders as they do so.

As of Saturday afternoon, 15 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Boone County, and one of them has died. MU issued a statement Friday evening saying two of its employees were among those who tested positive.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • I've been a reporter and editor at Missouri community newspapers for 35 years and joined the Columbia Missourian in 2003. My emphasis at the Missourian is on local government and elections. You can reach me at swaffords@missouri.edu or at 573-884-5366.

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