COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The new Columbia/Boone County health order is officially in effect with several changes in place for bars, restaurants and large gatherings.
Part of the new health order allows bars and restaurants to operate under normal businesses hours and resume bar and buffet service. The new orders now requires all gatherings or gathering places to be limited to 50 people instead of 20.
Local bars and restaurants say they're seeing an increase in business since after the previous health order modification, which allowed bars and restaurants to remain open until midnight instead of 10:30 p.m.
Matt McGee, owner of On the Rocks in downtown Columbia, said the new extension could help spread out business and allow for more customers throughout the night.
"There is a possibility that now that we are open until 1 (a.m.) that will help extend some of the business and spread it out a little bit so the table availability is better throughout the night," he said.
Ian Cody, the general manager of International Tap House also said there has been more business since the previous order and expects this update to keep benefiting business.
"There has definitely been more business," he said. "As long as people do their part, stay distant, wear their masks I think it's going to be awesome."
Sara Humm with the Columbia/Boone County Health Department said even though changes were made to the health order, a mask mandate and social distance requirement remain in place.
"We encourage folks to continue to help us move forward because we are not out of this yet and even though we see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel we can't totally let our guard down," she said.
Boone County, like the rest of the state, has experienced dropping coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations over the past several weeks. The county had 86 active cases as of Wednesday with just three Boone County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.
The five-day average of new coronavirus cases has plummeted to around 10 after hitting nearly 170 in November.
The new health order is set to expire at 11:59 a.m. on March 24, unless extended, rescinded or modified prior to such expiration.