Gov. Parson: Statewide social distancing order to begin Monday

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, center, announces that the state experienced its first death from the coronavirus, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, during a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece is at right. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

Gov. Mike Parson directed the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services director Dr. Randall Williams to order statewide social distancing of events of 10 or more people.

The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. today and will remain in effect until April 6.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, this is a critical step in protecting the health and safety of Missourians,” Parson said in a news release. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all citizens to practice social distancing and abide by this order, which is backed by intense deliberation and knowledge.”

Individuals “shall avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed throughout the duration of this Order,” according to the news release.

Visits to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes and assisted living homes are prohibited during the order, with the exception of those providing critical assistance.

Schools will remain closed, but they may provide childcare, food and nutritional services for those who qualify.

Visits to grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks are not prohibited during the order, “so long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” according to the release.