Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday he’ll keep his statewide social distancing order in place through June 15, extending the rules set to expire Sunday for another two weeks.


Parson’s decision comes days after viral video of massive parties at the Lake of the Ozarks drew national attention to the state, along with reports that two stylists at Great Clips parlors in Springfield tended to 140 customers while sick with COVID-19.


Great Clips announced it has temporarily closed its salons in Springfield after threatening messages.


And in St. Louis, black church leaders distributed masks for parishioners so they could begin reopening.


Under Parson’s extension, Missourians will have to continue saying 6 feet away from non-family members in public unless they’re doing a job that makes that impossible, in which case they should take "enhanced precautionary measures."


Nursing homes and similar facilities will remain closed to visitors unless they're providing "critical assistance" or visiting "in end-of-life circumstances."


Parson said at his Thursday briefing that the lake videos did not prompt his decision to keep the current restrictions in place.


"It really didn’t," he said. "We were pretty well along the way to making that decision."


On Thursday, the state Department of Health and Senior Services reported 181 new cases in the state, marking the sixth time in seven days where the count was over 175. The state has reported 12,673 infections with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 since the first case was reported in early March.


There has been at least one infected person found in 107 of Missouri’s 117 local health jurisdictions and there was at least one new case reported in 38 of those jurisdictions on Thursday.


There were 11 additional deaths reported, bringing the state total to 707.


Under Parson’s order, gatherings are limited and retailers must limit the number of people inside to 10 percent of the fire-rated capacity in spaces 10,000 square feet or larger and 25 percent of capacity in smaller spaces. Those restrictions will apply in Boone County, where the local health order would allow more if the state’s did so.


The lake videos raised the question of how Parson’s order is enforced. Under state law, a violation of the state health order is a misdemeanor. Parson said Thursday that it is up to local health departments to enforce it.


And Parson called the requirement a "recommendation" for people to follow.


"I am not going to send some sort of police action out there to enforce whether somebody is 6-foot apart or whether they’re not," Parson said. "I think that’s a dangerous road to go down when government has that kind of authority over individuals, anyhow."


Restaurants will still have to employ social distancing measures to offer dine-in services, such as keeping tables 6 feet apart, avoiding communal seating of parties that are not connected, and having no more than 10 people at a single table.


Tougher rules in place in various locations are not affected by the extension.


Parson said his decision is not a knock on the state’s recovery push, which has included efforts to ramp up testing and identify nascent outbreaks.


Instead, he said, it’s an attempt to let metro areas like St. Louis and Kansas City, which have the majority of the state’s cases, catch up to the rest of the state.


Unlike many counties and smaller cities like Springfield and Columbia, St. Louis, St. Louis County and Kansas City only lifted their stay-at-home orders last week.


"Some communities in the state are further along than others when it comes to re-opening and economic recovery," he said. "Extending the order will give these communities more time to prepare and align with us at the state level as we continue working towards Phase 2."


’REPEATED THREATS’


Great Clips said in a statement that the decision to close the Springfield salons came after "repeated threats."


"To protect the safety of everyone, the local franchisees made the decision to temporarily close salons in the Springfield area," the statement read. "They are working closely with law enforcement officials as the officials conduct a thorough investigation of these threats."


It wasn't immediately clear how many stores were closed or when they'll reopen. The company didn't respond to emails seeking further information.


The Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced last week that a hairstylist at Great Clips served 84 clients over eight days in mid-May while experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.


A co-worker of that stylist is now sick, and the health department said 56 other clients were potentially exposed by the second stylist from May 16 to May 20.


The stylists and all of their clients wore face masks, health officials said. All of the clients were being tested and Goddard said some results were expected to be announced Friday.


Springfield police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey said the first threat came from a Facebook message to an employee on Saturday. The second threat was phoned to a salon Wednesday.


Bailey said that in both cases, the messages "were threatening to shut the place down" because the stylists potentially exposed people to the virus. She declined to give further details.


Bailey said it was too soon the know if the threats came from the same person


Salons were allowed to reopen in Missouri under Gov. Mike Parson's order that went into effect May 5, despite concerns from some about the close proximity required for barbers and hairstylists to work with their clients.


SPIRITUAL, FINANCIAL NEEDS


For church leaders in St. Louis, where the coronavirus has proven especially lethal in the black community, the decision to reopen his End Times Christian Assembly in St. Louis comes with some trepidation, Bishop Floyd Williams said.


Still, Williams says that for his 80 parishioners, meeting together again is a risk they’re willing to take. He plans to restart in-person services on June 7.


"I do have concerns because we don’t know what’s happening with this," Williams said of the coronavirus. "We’ve just got to be cautious and do what our experts tell us to do."


Williams was among hundreds of pastors and church leaders showing up this week for free face masks. Three groups representing black St. Louis-area clergy are combining forces to distribute about 150,000 masks to churches that plan to open as early as next week. The masks were provided by St. Louis city and county and by the state of Missouri at the request of Darryl Gray, a St. Louis activist and pastor.


St. Louis city and county combined have accounted for more than half of the state’s confirmed cases, and more than two-thirds of the deaths. As a result, the city and county are only now phasing in a reopening plan, which allows in-person church gatherings starting June 1.


Gray said leaders of black churches have been struggling with the decision to reopen but feel a spiritual need to do so.


"The black church has been the surviving force for the black community since slavery," Gray said at the distribution site at a church in St. Louis County. "It’s where people get their hope, it’s where they get their inspiration, it’s where they get their encouragement. But, it’s also where they get to fellowship. Fellowship is important."


There’s also a financial need. Without in-person services for nearly three months, giving is down at many churches, leaving some struggling to pay bills.


"Some churches won’t survive financially," Gray said. "That’s just going to be a reality."


In addition to the masks, church leaders have been in discussions with government health leaders over the past several weeks about how to control social distancing, how to keep things as clean as possible and other measures aimed at keeping the virus from spreading.


Nationally, blacks have taken the brunt of the virus, and St. Louis is no exception.


In St. Louis city, 73 blacks have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, compared to 33 whites. The city is about evenly split between black and white residents. Blacks also account for 1,188 confirmed cases, compared to 467 for whites, according to data provided by the St. Louis Health Department.


In St. Louis County, where blacks make up 24% of the population, 39% of the 395 people who have died from the coronavirus were black, and blacks account for 44% of the 4,656 confirmed cases.


At Williams’ small church in the city, he plans many precautions beyond the free masks: Every other pew will remain empty. Ushers will seat families together, separated from the next group. Temperatures will be checked at the door, hand sanitizer will be distributed and masks will be required.


"We’re serious about this thing," Williams said. "Let’s not only save souls, let’s save lives."


The Springfield News-Leader and the Associated Press contributed to this report.