By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming residents need to continue to act with caution as the state moves into allowing some of its businesses closed because of the coronavirus to open back up Friday, Gov. Mark Gordon said Thursday.
Gordon said because Wyoming residents have been willing to observe social distancing recommendations and avoid large groups, the state is ahead of most in beginning to ease restrictions on businesses.
However, he added those same precautions must be followed as gyms and businesses that offer personal services, such as hair salons and cosmetologists, open on Friday.
“It is important for Wyoming residents to remember this is your responsibility, this is your time to shine, to make sure the ground we gained in this battle is not lost,” he said during a news conference. “Despite some people saying we can close it back down (if problems occur), let’s not do that. That will be far more disruptive than if we just do the right thing in a steady fashion.”
Gordon’s news conference was his third since Tuesday, when he announced the state health order closing gyms and businesses that provide personal services, adopted in March to stop the spread of coronavirus, would be allowed to open up on Friday if they follow certain safeguards. Safeguards include limiting the number of people in a building at one time and requiring customers and staff to wear cloth face coverings.
On Wednesday, Gordon announced that campgrounds in state parks, closed for several weeks, would be open for overnight camping for Wyoming residents only by May 15.
Darin Westby, director of the state’s Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, said those wishing to use the campsites will have to use a reservation system, which will allow the state to maintain social distancing guidelines among campers.
Westby said the system would also allow officials to make sure only Wyoming residents are using the campsites until the parks are opened up to all users.
The state will also resume the sale of non-resident one-day and five-day fishing licenses on May 8, said Brian Nesvik, director of the state Game and Fish Department. The date coincides with the end of Gordon’s order for out-of-state visitors to Wyoming to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state.
Short-term non-resident fishing license sales were halted in late March to discourage residents of other states from traveling to Wyoming, possibly increasing the threat of a spread of coronavirus.
Gordon said that overall, this year’s summer tourism season will not be as good as normal for the state, but he added the state still needs to move ahead carefully to avoid a resurgence of coronavirus.
“If we get off half-baked and start up and suddenly some outbreak happens, that’s going to be a huge challenge,” he said. “I’d hate to be put in an embarrassing situation with colleagues who said some time ago that we needed to issue a ‘shelter-in-place’ (order). As you remember, I didn’t think that was necessary.”