By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Restaurants and bars in Sheridan and Washakie counties are now able to open under variances to the state’s health orders approved by Wyoming officials.
The counties both asked for county-wide exemptions to the public health orders closing restaurants and bars that were put in place in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
While the statewide orders keeping restaurants, bars and other businesses expected to attract 10 people or more are in place until at least May 15, Gov. Mark Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said county officials would be allowed to ask for variances to those rules.
The variances approved for Sheridan County would allow restaurants to offer outdoor dining. However, tables would be limited to six people, all tables would have to be at least six feet away from each other and servers would have to wear face masks.
Sheridan County also won approval for its request for a variance to allow churches to resume their services. While churches were not closed by any of Gordon’s orders, a limit on gatherings of 10 people or more effectively prevented services from being held in churches.
Under the rules for operating churches, household groups attending services must remain at least six feet away from other household groups. Church officials and staff who have close contact with members must wear a cloth face mask.
In Washakie County, state officials granted a request to allow the reopening of restaurants and bars for inside seating if specific safety guidelines are imposed. The guidelines are similar to those in place for Sheridan County, requiring tables to be six feet away from each other, servers to use face masks and requiring disinfecting of the businesses three times a day.
In the cases of both the restaurants and the churches, staff members must be screened regularly to determine whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed case of the illness.