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Gordon indicates that more pandemic-related restrictions will be eased in coming days
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Gordon indicates that more pandemic-related restrictions will be eased in coming days

Businesses Reopen

Michelle Ward and Audrey Bennett both wear face masks as Ward gets her hair cut at Rootz Salon last Friday in Casper. Restrictions on businesses like hair salons will be further loosened in the coming days.

Restrictions on bars, restaurants, barbershops and tattoo parlors will be further loosened in the coming days, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Thursday.

“I am further excited with the news today of the further awakening of our economy,” he said at a livestreamed news conference.

The restrictions on barbershops, tattoo parlors and similar businesses — which limit how many people can be in the buildings, stipulate how staff prepare and clean, and require social distance measures — will be further relaxed, Gordon said, though it’s unclear to what extent. He said bars and restaurants will likely be allowed to reopen to “table service” soon as well.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer and the ultimate authority over the orders, said the barbershop order would likely be eased to allow more people into the buildings at once. She said the restaurant and bar-related order will likely resemble what various counties have instituted: Outdoor and potentially indoor dining, albeit with restrictions on spacing and handling of food and utensils. She indicated that loosened orders would affect movie theaters and churches as well.

Orders restricting the various businesses have been in place since mid-March and have been extended repeatedly. But last week, Harrist announced that barbershops and similar businesses could open in a limited capacity. Orders keeping restaurants closed to in-person services were extended until May 15.

At his press conference Thursday, Gordon indicated the measures would be allowed to expire and that new ones, with looser restrictions, would likely then be implemented. He made no mention of the order that closes schools, colleges and universities; many districts have already moved to keep learning virtual through the rest of this academic term.

Gordon’s announcement, made Thursday afternoon, comes as counties across Wyoming take their own measures — with state approval — to loosen restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and religious gatherings. A dozen counties have sought to ease the strictures placed on those businesses, while Teton County has kept more stringent measures in effect. Harrist said the newest batch of orders, which will likely be released next week, would resemble what counties have instituted on an individual basis.

Gordon also said he would allow to expire his order that requires people traveling into Wyoming to quarantine for 14 days.

He and Harrist repeatedly warned that the state was not returning to the same world that it existed in before the pandemic’s spread. But they indicated that a return to some sense of normalcy appeared to be within sight.

Gordon repeatedly highlighted the return of Wyoming tourism; he said the state would be one of the first to reinvigorate the industry, highlighting the potential reopening of Yellowstone National Park.

But he urged Wyomingites to continue following social distancing guidelines and to wear face masks in public because “if we screw this up,” then tourism will continue to be battered and the virus will return.

Testing has confirmed more than 480 cases of the coronavirus in Wyoming. Health officials have also reported more than 150 probable cases — patients who have not been tested but are both showing symptoms of COVID-19 and were in close contact with a confirmed case.

Seven people have died after contracting the virus, including four Fremont County residents whose deaths were announced on April 21. Three were from the same immediate family.

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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