The Pettis County Health Center issued a Public Health Emergency Rule on Aug. 5 after hearing public comments at a meeting held Wednesday at Convention Hall.

The rule became effective at 12 a.m. Friday and remains in effect until it is rescinded by the County Health Officer and the Board of Trustees of the PCHC.

The order was signed by PCHC Administrator JoAnn Martin and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Phyllis Domann.

The Emergency Rule came about after the health center determined that the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pettis County is doubling at an increasing rate, and there have been hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in the county.

The coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency by President Trump and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on March 13.

The rule dictates the following:

*Individuals are required to wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose unless they can absolutely maintain a distance of six feet from others when in a place of public accommodation (workplace, business, hotel, restaurant, place of worship, gym, child care facility, community center or library)

*Masks may be removed inside restaurants and bars when individuals are actively eating or drinking, but must be worn at all times otherwise

*Face coverings are not required inside a solitary, enclosed work space such as an office

*Face coverings are not required for guest speakers, pastors, instructors speaking to a group

*An owner, manager, operator or employee may refuse service to any individual who refuses to wear a mask who is not in compliance with the rule. They cannot require the individual to produce documentation verifying a medical condition or disability that would prevent them from wearing a mask, nor ask about it, however.

*The order includes those utilizing public transportation such a taxis or ride-sharing services

*A public space includes bus stops, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, farmer's markets, and patio seating areas at bars and restaurants

*Face coverings are not required when individuals can absolutely guarantee six feet of social distancing from all others

*Exempt from the rule are those younger than five, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering

*An owner, manager or operator will post the rules in a conspicuous place for all to see when entering an establishment

As of Thursday afternoon, the Pettis County Health Center has reported a total of 461 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 114 of those are active. 343 have been released to normal activities and eight are currently hospitalized. There have been four deaths reported in Pettis County due to COVID-19.

Pettis County Health Center