By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Reports of exceptions being granted to some businesses in Wyoming to allow them to operate in spite of the statewide health orders has Gov. Mark Gordon concerned that a patchwork of restrictions could surface around the state.
The health officers for Johnson and Weston counties have both allowed several businesses to open even though they were to be closed under Gordon’s statewide health orders.
The businesses include a fitness club, a hair and nail salon and a massage business that provides medical services.
The state’s orders closed businesses likely to attract more than 10 people at a time and businesses that provide personal services such as hair salons and tattoo parlors.
Gordon said the state has worked to give county health officers the latitude they needed to deal with their local conditions.
“Our approach from the start was the county health officers are probably the closest to the ground, they have the best sense of what’s going on,” he said. “At the time … places like Teton (County) were particularly worried about overwhelming their medical facility and they wanted to get a little stricter, but it wasn’t appropriate for the rest of the state.”
Gordon said with different counties allowing some businesses to open, problems could arise when dealing with more than one company that offer similar services.
“You end up saying maybe they’re (in) the same business, one business can open and one can’t,” he said.
The situation could also encourage residents from one county to travel to another to take advantage of an open business, he said.
“Understand that one of the problems is if you open in one county, you’re going to bring folks from all over there,” he said. “So Laramie County, for example, is one that … we might want to look at fairly carefully because Weld County is a hot spot in Colorado and to suddenly start opening stuff in Cheyenne, well, you bring a lot of potentially infected people in.”
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr, in a tweet, also expressed concerns about the decisions.
“I’m at a loss for words,” she said. “WY hasn’t hit its apex. Clearly there is no uniform statewide policy when we have one county with stay-at-home orders and now another county … opening up …”