Guidance for Cultural Institutions, Destinations, Attractions and Large Venues in the City of St. Louis

Guidance and protocols for cultural institutions/destinations & attractions/large venues (i.e. Zoo, Aquarium, Arch, Science Center, Museums, Theatres, and Similar Venues)

Over the past several weeks we have collaborated with public health officials and leading venue operators in the St. Louis region to prepare for the return of meeting, event and entertainment activity in a safe and responsible fashion.  A working group of venue executives with deep hospitality experience was assembled including representatives from Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri Botanical Garden, Purina Farms, Saint Louis Zoo, Destination St. Louis, Fair St. Louis, Contemporary Productions, Evntiv, Experient, Stifel Theatre, Enterprise Center, MLS4THELOU, O’Fallon Hoots, Logic Systems, Bi-State Development, Fox Theatre, The MUNY, Butler’s Pantry, Gateway Convention Center, St. Louis Cardinals, Third Degree Glass Factory and The Maker’s District,  Regional Arts Commission, The Magic House and LIVE Nation.

As there are many types of venues, indoor/outdoor, meetings/sports/theatrical, etc…plans will vary.  See below for guidance in specific areas in addition to overall health and safety protocols.

The recommendations contained herein do not supersede Public Health orders, laws or regulations that apply to your business and jurisdiction.

Recommend overall management, including:

  • Written Management plan
  • Qualified workplace coordinator (e.g. Safety Officer) who has authority to develop plan and implement changes in work conditions to meet CDC criteria
  • Include re-evaluation of routine work practices before re-opening
  • Training plan for employees
  • Plan for alternate duties for employees at higher risk for severe illness

The goal of the protocols outlined in the document is to minimize contact reducing the risk of virus spread among both staff and guests.   The core set of principles that together prevent the spread of infections by respiratory transmission (including COVID-19) include:

  1. Practice physical distancing – maintain 6 feet between and among employees and guests at all times
  2. Monitor employee health – ensure your employees are in good health and screen employees for illness
  3. Use protective equipment – a fabric or disposable face covering must always be worn by employees and guests
  4. Clean/sanitize/disinfect – wash and sanitize hands, and wipe down frequently touched surfaces with EPA-approved disinfectant (Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants.)

Venue Responsibility to Staff

  • Venue management and its contractors to provide all staff members with proper protective equipment including fabric or disposable facial covering for all, and gloves (with instructions for proper use to avoid cross contamination).
  • Task appropriate EPA-registered chemical disinfectant cleaning supplies should be provided as necessary to all staff members.
  • Use EPA-registered disinfectants for all routine cleaning. For a list of products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the novel coronavirus, visit list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
  • Make disinfectant wipes available to front-of-house staff and instruct them to wipe down countertops, key cards, pens, and other shared surfaces.
  • Give additional training to all cleaning staff. Staff should know how to:
    • Put on, wear, and remove face coverings appropriately
    • Put on and remove disposable gloves safely
    • Use disinfectants according to manufacturer directions
    • Disinfect all high-touch surfaces, including door handles, toilet and faucet handles, light switches, remote controls, ice and vending machines, and elevator buttons
    • Recognize and report the signs and symptoms of illness
  • Provide training to all staff in physical distancing requirements, proper hygiene, the proper wearing and use of face coverings and gloves, and guest interaction protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Ensure training is available in the languages that are common in the worker population. Signage for “Stop the Spread of Germs” is available in various languages at
  • Venue should create a safe environment for staff to work in that includes distancing of work areas, distancing from guest interactions, and additional signage throughout back of house spaces as reminders for safe practices.
  • Create a mechanism to evaluate requests to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness.This may include duties requiring less public-facing exposure if available.Include this in staff training.
  • Create flexible leave policies.Encourage staff to stay at home if sick.

Staff Arrival and Departure

  • Upon arrival at work, venue employees (and employees of contractors) must be masked, and employers must conduct health checks (e.g., temperature and symptom screening) of employees at the start of each shift.Staff arrival times should be staggered.Physical distancing protocols should be followed.Conduct health checks safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations. Confidentiality should be respected. Employers may use examples of screening methods in CDC’s General Business FAQs as a guide.
    • Screening should include 1) a temperature check if it can be performed with a touchless thermometer, 2) asking about the presence of cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle ache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell and 3) asking if the employee has had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
    • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, new or worsened cough, trouble breathing, new or worsening body aches, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
    • Employees with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or above, or who answer yes to any of the screening questions must not be allowed to enter the workplace.Employees who develop any symptoms of respiratory illness while at work must immediately be sent home.Employees with symptoms should contact their healthcare provider for additional guidance.
    • Employees who are sent home with symptoms should not return to work until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation or they have been cleared to return by their healthcare provider. These employees should be encouraged to have or buy a thermometer and check their own temperature at home twice daily.
  • If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, work with local health agencies to ensure all employees and customers who can be identified as having had close contact while the employee was infectious are contacted.While awaiting formal investigation, compile a list of employees, customers, or other people known to be in close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19.Employees identified as having close contact should be immediately sent home or told not to come into work until the investigation has been conducted.
  • Covered employers and employees should be aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons, such as for self-quarantining or seeking a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Close off areas recently used by an employee or customer who has tested positive or is suspected positive for COVID-19 and do not reuse them until after cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants.Staff performing the cleaning and disinfection after use by suspected COVID employee should wear mask, disposable or launderable gown, and gloves.These items should be disposed or cleaned before reuse.
  • Staff should always wash hands when arriving at and before leaving the worksite using warm water (at least 100°F) and soap for at least 20 seconds.Hand washing should be repeated after any of the following activities:using restrooms, sneezing, touching the face, blowing the nose, cleaning, sweeping, mopping, eating or drinking.When hand washing is not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
  • Keep all personal items, including cell phones and laptops, in the designated areas to prevent contamination of workspaces. Personal items such as outerwear should be stored in a locker or other designated area. The venue should consider providing each employee with a clear plastic bag for their items.
  • Reusable bottles/cups must stay in the personal items area, single use cups are suggested.
  • Pre-Shift Meetings will be conducted in areas that allow for appropriate physical distancing between employees.  Larger departments will stagger employee arrival times to minimize traffic volume in back of house corridors and service elevators.  Hand sanitizer will be available at each timeclock location and employees will be required to sanitize their hands after clocking in.  The management team will ensure constant communication and proper PPE and sanitation procedures are followed and updated per the latest expert guidance.
  • Dispose of gloves and hairnet in designated trashcans before leaving the worksite.

Guest Experience

  • Each individual venue should submit a general event experience plan for review by local Health Department officials for approval and follow these guidelines to support the event planning process and daily operations.
  • A face covering (fabric or disposable) must always be worn by guests and staff, except when consuming food and beverage items.
  • Based on the approved guidelines from the Health Department, venue management should work in collaboration with event planners, or organizers that produce events in venues, to develop an event experience plan.The event experience plan should address items including, but not limited to set ups, floor diagrams, staffing needs, physical distancing strategies and details for cleaning and disinfecting the facility. Event organizers must ensure guests/attendees are aware of all guidelines before arrival and signs should be prominently displayed as a reminder.  
  • Signage should be placed at the entrances and throughout common areas asking guests to wear face coverings while not eating, practice physical distancing and wash their hands with soap and water frequently.
  • It is recommended that venues identify a Safety Officer to oversee and execute special preparation in support of the event experience plan.The Safety Officer will assist in the pre-planning of the experience; ensure that standards are established, monitored and enforced according to the safety protocols. Venues should consider utilizing waiver of liability forms. 
  • Event organizers should maintain a log of guests to assist public health officials with contact tracing if necessary.The venue should communicate this necessary function to the event organizer when they collaborate on the event experience plan.
  • Venue policies should minimize contact with shared objects such as door handles.Therefore, guests should enter the venue through doors that are propped open if they are not automated instead of having a doorman open them.If possible, dedicate and mark a portion of the doors ‘entry only’ and the other portion of doors ‘exit only’.
    • Propping the front door open is only permitted when a food service area is not in the immediate vicinity.
    • Venue should provide hand sanitizer immediately outside and inside the door if it must be opened by hand.
  • Venue staff should not open the doors of vehicles containing arriving guests (cars, taxis, shuttle vans, etc.). If venue staff must open vehicle doors, they should either wear gloves and dispose of them after each interaction or wash hands immediately after each interaction.
  • Upon arrival, venue may elect to ask guests to complete a health screening questionnaire:
    • Have you been tested for COVID-19?
    • Are you awaiting results of a COVID-19 test?
    • Do you have any symptoms of respiratory illness (the symptoms should be listed on the questionnaire)?

If venue implements this procedure, they should offer prominent communication before arrival indicating the attendee should not visit the venue if they are currently having, or had symptoms recently, had a diagnosis of COVID-19, or had close contact with a known case.  In addition, a plan should be in place for when someone screens positive on site.

  • A venue may elect to implement attendee temperature checks.If they do so, points of entry may be limited to ensure that it will be done thoroughly. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any other COVID-19 symptoms should be reported to management and local health officials and directed to seek medical care.If the guest is from outside the St. Louis region, a plan should be in place to transport them to a local health facility.
  • On arrival, guests should be advised about the venue’s practices for their safety (this information will also be included on the venue’s website).Furniture in public areas should be strategically arranged to provide appropriate distancing of 6’ to assist guests in maintaining physical distance.
  • Any area where guests are queued should be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing. This includes but not limited to entrances, box office, security screening, registration, exhibitors, elevator lobbies, escalators, food service areas and concession stands.
  • Venues should take steps to minimize contact with guests during security screenings.
  • A plan shall be designed to limit the exchange of tickets between staff and guest, such as touchless scanning of bar codes displayed on a mobile phone.If an exchange is necessary, staff should sanitize their hands frequently with a hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol.
  • A plan should be designed to limit the exchange of required credentials.This includes VIP areas, back of house access, staff identification or vendors.Consider staggering the arrival time of guests to reduce crowding at entrance.
  • Venues must limit the number of guests riding an elevator to 2-3 based on a standard-size elevator car.Guests riding an escalator must maintain 6 feet of separation.Venues should consider marking six-foot increments on the floor leading to escalators
  • The Venue should place hand sanitizer at key guest encounter points, such as entrances, elevator and escalator banks, meeting and conference areas, concession stands and seating portals. Guests should be advised to use regularly.
  • Staff performing screening should wear cloth face covering mask and gloves.

Special Events & Meetings

  • A face covering (fabric or disposable) must always be worn by employees and guests, except when consuming food and beverage items.
  • Venues must reduce capacity and control the maximum quantity of guests in the venue to 25% of their permitted occupancy.A counting system must be in place such as reservations, registrations, RSVP’s, or tickets to ensure the 25% capacity standard is not exceeded.Physical distancing of 6 feet between parties must always be maintained. At later dates, as metrics warrant, capacity percentages may increase to 50%, 75% and eventually 100%
  • Meeting rooms always need to be designed in such a way to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between attendees, including ingress and egress. Theatre style chair sets should be appropriately distanced, instead of traditional rows. Classroom tables should be set in rows that have 6’ of distance between them. Banquet rounds are not recommended for meeting room sets during this time due to impracticability of spacing.U-Shape (maintaining 6 feet between the arms of the “U” and at the corners) and hollow square sets (watch the corners), and classroom sets (particularly if staggered), are preferred to banquet rounds.
  • Pens and note pads should not be placed on the tables unless they will be disposed of after each session.
  • Hand sanitizer stations should be arranged in all pre-function areas.
  • Recommend removing traditional coffee stations as a gathering place. Instead place coffee pots, single use beverage bottles, cans, and individually wrapped protein bars or other items at tables. Consider designating a staff member to serve coffee rather than self-serve by guests.
  • All linen, including underlays, should be replaced after each use and washed using the warmest appropriate water setting and add bleach or another disinfectant to laundry. Wear gloves when handling dirty linens.
  • All buffet and self-serve style food service should be suspended.
  • Flatware should be provided as a roll up or disposables should be used.
  • Individual bottled water should be provided in lieu of water carafes on meeting tables and water stations.


  • Attractions must submit a comprehensive plan to the Health Department for review and approval to be considered for re-opening.The plan should include operational strategies addressing all aspects of virus spread prevention outlined within these protocols.
  • A face covering (fabric or disposable) must always be worn by guests and employees, except when consuming food and beverage items.

Facility Operations

  • The frequency of air filter replacement and HVAC system cleaning should be increased to maximize fresh air exchange.
  • Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
  • It is recommended that all public water fountains be disabled and a sign clearly indicating the same.

Housekeeping and Disinfecting

  • All hard and high touch surfaces should be fully cleaned and disinfected with EPA-approved virucidal cleaners, and on a high frequency basis (at least twice daily) in all frequent use areas, including elevator buttons, public restroom sinks, toilet handles, touch points, seating area furniture, keyboards and keys, push/pull bars, stairwell handles, escalator handles, elevator handles, all welcome desk areas and entrances and any other surfaces or areas that may apply.
  • The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing has been increased in all public spaces with an emphasis on frequent contact surfaces including, but not limited to, counters, elevators and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, ATMs, escalator and stair handrails and seating areas.
  • The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing will also increase in high traffic back of house areas with an emphasis on the employee dining rooms, employee entrances, uniform control rooms, employee restrooms, loading docks, offices, kitchens and security areas.
  • Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected regularly using EPA-recommended disinfectants, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches.Make sure restrooms are regularly stocked with supplies for handwashing, including soap and materials for drying hands.Providing hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol is a supplement to hand washing, but not a replacement.

Food and Beverage Outlets and Kitchen Practices (See Restaurant Protocols for Full Guidance)

  • Prop open frequently used interior doors to avoid /minimize contact.Where possible, doors should open hands-free by using automatic and foot-actuated openers.All door handles and high-touch areas should be disinfected by wiping down with a clear cloth and diluted bleach or certified EPA cleaner.
  • Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Prepare fresh bleach solution every 24 hours. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Do not use bleach for hand sanitizing.
    • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
      • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or
      • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Set up hand-washing/sanitizing stations at all entrances/exits/high-traffic areas.
  • Designate trashcans specifically for staff protective equipment - always keep lid securely sealed.Empty protective equipment trash cans frequently - always wearing gloves that are then disposed of after removal.
  • As best they can, staff should always maintain a distance of 6 feet from others in both the kitchen and dining room.Exterior and interior seating should be adjusted to accommodate 6 feet of separation between dining parties unless there is a partition that physically separates the parties.
  • In venues with booth seating, installing plexiglass partition (or any other solid material) to separate parties, as an alternative to 6’ between booths, is permitted as long as the divider is at least 60” high from the floor.
  • Limit group size of tables, ideally to 6 persons, but no more than 10, preferably members of the same household. Dining parties arriving together may be seated at a table or booth where their separation from each other may be less than 6 feet.
  • Food prep stations in the kitchen must be set up at least 6 feet apart.
  • Kitchen staff should practice ‘no-contact’ transfers: place items down on a counter for the next person to pick up, rather than passing back and forth.
  • Outdoor dining at your venue is recommended as it likely poses less risk for virus transmission than dining in interior spaces.St. Louis City and County officials will assist you in obtaining the necessary permits to introduce or expand your outside dining space.The City of St. Louis Food and Beverage Control Program can be reached at (314) 657-1539.The St. Louis County Food Safety Program can be reached at (314) 615-8900.Separation regulations apply equally to interior and exterior dining.
  • Single use menus should be used and disposed of once used by each individual customer.An alternative is posting your menu online in a mobile-friendly fashion inviting guests to browse on their smart phone.If a laminated menu must be used, wipe them down with an EPA-certified sanitizer after each use.
  • All condiments including salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and mustard should be removed from all tables.These items should only be handled by service and kitchen staff.If single serve packets are provided, they should not be re-used for subsequent customers.Any remaining packets should be discarded between customers.Holders and dispensers for single use packets should not be used.
  • Discontinue self-serve food and drink options, such as buffets, salad bars and drink stations.
  • Gaming areas, including darts, pool, video games, etc. should remain closed at this time.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Limit the number of employees in shared spaces, including kitchens, break rooms, and offices to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between people.Train employees and post signage to avoid congregating with co-workers in communal areas.
  • Kitchen staff should wear and change gloves frequently throughout every step of food preparation. Change gloves between handling food and touching kitchen equipment, doors, handles, etc.
  • Wash hands frequently. Hand washing with soap and water should continue to remain a top priority. Wash hands every 30 minutes or anytime you leave your cooking station or come in contact with any other high touch areas such as refrigerator/freezer doors.
  • After hand washing, employees need to dry hands off and turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Special note: do not use clean hands to turn off the faucet or use cloth linens or towels to dry hands.
  • Kitchen surfaces, especially hand sinks, handles, prep stations, and door knobs need to be wiped down with disinfectant or EPA-approved sanitizer at least every hour.A log should be created to document all practices with a checklist.Kitchen staff should utilize fabric or disposable masks while preparing food, if available.For information on EPA-approved disinfectants, please visit:
  • China, glass and silverware may be used for in-venue dining as long as FDA-approved washing, rinsing and sanitizing standards are met. Diligent care should be taken to ensure sanitizer concentration and water temperature requirements are strictly followed.Dish washing machine sanitizing mechanisms should be closely monitored and chemical concentration/temperature tested using the appropriate test kit or temperature measuring device every 4 hours minimally.
  • Consider using gloves while handling soiled/used dishes and utensils, and for handling bags of trash. Gloves should be discarded after use. Hands should be washed after handling soiled dishes and before handling clean dishes.
  • Use EPA-approved sanitizer throughout the venue. Visit to find the current list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
  • Dedicate a team member to disinfect the area occupied by guests upon departure including tables, chair backs, menus and pens.Decorative centerpieces and table tents should not be used unless disposable and single use.Gloves should be worn by staff and disposed of after cleaning each table.Consider the use of disposable menus, dishware and napkins.
  • Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected regularly using EPA-recommended disinfectants, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches.Make sure restrooms are regularly stocked with supplies for handwashing, including liquid or foam soap and disposable paper towels for drying hands.Providing hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol is a supplement to hand washing, but not a replacement.Restroom waste receptacles should be emptied regularly.

Protective Equipment

  • All kitchen staff should wear the following while on site:
    • Disposable food-grade gloves
    • Hairnet, hat, or other hair restraints
    • Face covering (fabric or disposable masks)
  • Please review these recommendations concerning the proper use of PPE prepared by the World Central Kitchen:
  • Staff should change their face covering if it becomes soiled or wet.
  • Wash/sanitize hands after changing masks and before putting on a new pair of gloves.
  • Change gloves when switching tasks, handling different foods, or after touching objects that should be considered contaminated (cell phone, computer, clothes, door handles, mask, face, etc.)
  • If the integrity of a glove is compromised (e.g. ripped, punctured) change gloves immediately - wash hands per proper protocols
  • Face covering worn by service staff may be made of two layers of breathable, launderable fabric.
  • It is recommended that all guests be required to wear a protective mask while entering and leaving the venue, and only remove them while at their tables.
  • Cups, lids, napkins and straws should be handed directly to customers by staff as opposed to self-service.
  • No self-serve drink, food service or buffet options unless food and drink is pre-packaged.
  • Do not place utensils on table until patrons are seated.
  • Service staff are not required to wear gloves, but must wash their hands frequently and between serving tables for at least 20 seconds. If a hand washing station is not immediately available, they must also rub their hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer containing 70% alcohol.

Payment Procedures

  • Limit physical contact with others as much as possible.
  • To reduce contact, a central pay station is recommended for in-venue dining maintaining 6 feet of distance between staff and guests.If a line forms, 6 feet of separation should be maintained with chalk marks or decals on the floor.Another option is using a portable payment system that can be administered at each table.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining physical distance of 6 feet is difficult.
  • Cash transactions and cash tips are not recommended.If cash is transferred, the server should wash their hands after accepting.
  • Invite guests to use their own pens when signing credit card or room charge authorizations.If not available, wipe the provided pen down with sanitary wipe after each use.
  • Hand sanitizer should be placed conveniently at the payment station and be used by service staff and guests at the start and conclusion of each transaction.
  • For curbside or delivery orders, pre-payment with a credit card over the phone or online, including gratuity provides a contactless transaction.
  • Practice contactless transfers by placing items down on a counter for the customer to pick up.In the case of curbside delivery, ask the guest to open their trunk and place the order in.
  • Delivery vehicles must be disinfected before and after each delivery by wiping door handles, steering wheel, control panel, gear shift, seat belts, etc.
  • Gloves must be worn at all times and changed between deliveries.Practice ‘no-contact’ transfers.
  • If delivering to a distribution site, avoid going inside the building(s).Have receiving contact meet outside and practice no-contact transfers.

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