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Eureka mayor plans to reopen city May 4, county executive warns of possible consequences

Eureka's decision defies St. Louis County's indefinite stay-at-home order

EUREKA, Mo. — City leaders said they will follow St. Charles County, Jefferson County and the state of Missouri in reopening Eureka on May 4.

The difference: their city order is going directly against the county that it's partially located in, St. Louis County.

"I would encourage any business in St. Louis County to get good legal advice about what it means to be operating outside of the laws of St. Louis County," said County Executive Sam Page.

RELATED: Eureka mayor says city will reopen businesses with state on May 4

Many businesses in Eureka have blinking "open" signs, most are doing curbside pickup.

But when you look a little closer, the coronavirus crisis is taking a toll.

"I don't think we'll make it another month," said Jennifer Lieber, whose family owns Chick-n-Elly's.

That's why Eureka Mayor Sean Flower said he's reopening the city on May 4.

"He's our mayor, so I have to trust that he has our businesses in the best interest and hopefully it works," said Leiber.

Flower made the announcement Tuesday in a letter posted on Facebook.

It defies St. Louis County's indefinite order to stay at home, citing economic ruin if they follow the rules.

"It can't be a political thing for us, it's a safety issue," said Michelle Johnson, owner of Michelle's American Bistro.

Despite the mayor's approval, Johnson and Curt Newsome said they're choosing to not re-open.

"What he wants to do, he can do, and I think if somebody wants to open, I guess they can. We just don't feel comfortable, and we're not going to let someone sway us until we have as much facts as we have," Johnson said.

If you ask County Executive Sam Page, the facts are St. Louis County accounts for 40% of the state's COVID-19 cases, and defying local orders will come at a cost.

"An individual who goes to a business and becomes infected with COVID-19 and that business was in violation of a county public health order, that would certainly create a complicated legal environment and a complicated relationship with their insurance carriers," Page said.

RELATED: St. Louis County Executive says to ‘get good legal advice’ if you plan to open your business in violation of stay-at-home order

All things businesses said they'll consider.

"We're going to try it, and we're going to practice the social distancing and I'm going to still encourage the curbside carry out because you know every little bit helps," said Leiber.

Flower said his community needs to learn how to deal with the virus while opening the economy. He declined 5 On Your Side's request for an interview.

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