State Health Dept Approves Exemptions for Restaurants and Churches in Some Counties

in News/Coronavirus

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Restaurants in Lincoln, Natrona and Park counties will be allowed to offer their customers a place to eat under exemptions to Wyoming’s public health orders recently approved by state officials.

Officials also approved a request to relax the public health rule limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people for religious services in Niobrara County and religious and funeral services in Platte County.

The variances were approved Friday, the same day the state’s order closing businesses that provide personal services was lifted. At the time, Gov. Mark Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said the state would consider county-wide variances and business-specific exceptions to the public health orders issued in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In Natrona and Park counties, state officials approved a request to allow restaurants to serve patrons outside, assuming some safety guidelines are followed. 

Guidelines including limiting the number of guests at a table to six, making sure tables are at least six feet apart and requiring staff to wear face coverings.

In Lincoln County, officials were given the ability to open restaurants, cafes “and other similar places of public accommodation as long as tables are limited to six guests and staff wear face coverings. Workers at Lincoln County restaurants that open for dining must be screened at the beginning of each shift for coronavirus symptoms and exposure to people with the coronavirus.

Niobrara County and Platte County, one of two counties with no confirmed coronavirus cases, won approval for their requests to hold religious services. Platte County officials also requested and received permission to hold funeral services. 

While churches and funerals were not specifically closed by the state’s public health orders, they were affected by the order limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

Under the variances approved for church services, household groups attending church services will have to remain six feet from each other and the number of people in a church must be limited to allow for that distancing.

Religious leaders and staff must also be screened for coronavirus symptoms and any staff member coming within six feet of attendees must wear a face covering.

Under the variance approved for funeral services in Platte County, funeral homes will be allowed to conduct services under similar rules.

The state has also approved a variance sought by Teton County to keep its businesses offering personal services closed until May 11.

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