By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The state order closing down businesses where people are likely to gather is regrettable, but understandable under the circumstances, the leaders of two Wyoming hospitality industry groups said Friday.
Mike Moser, executive director for the Wyoming State Liquor Association, and Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, both said it is important to take action now to cut short the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
“This is obviously an unprecedented time in Wyoming and our nation’s history,” Brown said. “It is going to be very difficult for our businesses to endure and adapt. If there is a silver lining, I hope these extreme measures result in reducing the longevity of this virus so we can get back to business as usual as quickly as possible.”
“We’ve got hundreds of businesses closed and thousands of employees unemployed or underemployed,” Moser said. “But we understand the need for the governor’s actions.”
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, on Thursday issued an order closing all of the state’s bars, theaters, child care centers, gyms and other businesses likely to draw more than 10 people at once. The measure, endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon, is seen as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Restaurants were allowed to remain open only for curbside takeout and drive-through service. Tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry and the closures are expected to have an impact on the state’s economy. Brown said he hopes the closure leads to an end to the spread of the illness by Wyoming’s summer tourism season.
“I guess if there’s another silver lining, at least it’s March and not July,” he said. “I hope measures like this will result in this situation concluding sooner rather than later.”