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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announces an order to prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people.

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has announced Missourians will be prohibited from gathering in numbers of more than 10 beginning Monday.

“This is a serious time for our state and nation, and we must continue taking all steps necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Parson said during his daily press briefing Saturday. “The more people reduce their public contact, the sooner the virus will be contained and the sooner we can overcome this challenge.”

Effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23, the order will extend to dining or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts, the governor said.

Drive-thru, delivery or pickup at restaurants will be allowed throughout the duration of the order, he said, which will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. Monday, April 6.

Parson said the order could be extended.

Individuals will also be prohibited from visiting nursing homes, as well as long-term retirement or assisted living facilities, unless those visits are to “provide critical assistance,” he said.

The governor added the order will not prohibit people from going to a variety of places  including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks  as long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained. Those measures include keeping a distance of 6 feet between individuals who “are not family members,” he added.

Schools will also remain closed, he said.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, this is a critical step in protecting the health and safety of Missourians,” Parson said. “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.”

As of Friday, Missouri has 73 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and three related deaths. No cases in Polk County have been reported.

This is a breaking news story. The BH-FP will provide more information in an upcoming issue of the newspaper.

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