By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
In a joint statement issued late Monday, members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation all signaled support for Gov. Mark Gordon’s statewide mask mandate.
U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney issued the statement of support following the governor’s announcement on Monday.
“Gov. Gordon is committed to protecting Wyoming and his health orders reflect that. We’ve lost 280 people in Wyoming and more than 280,000 Americans to this virus so far. It’s a real and significant threat,” the delegation said.
“We’re especially worried about protecting our most vulnerable population from this deadly disease. It’s not a cure-all, but wearing a mask and practicing social distancing goes a long way in stopping the spread. These actions will help protect our family, friends and neighbors while still allowing us to keep our state open and working,” the statement said said.
At least one former member of Wyoming’s congressional delegation is a supporter as well.
Former Vice President and Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney was photographed wearing a mask earlier this year and daughter Liz Cheney sent it out on social media with the message: “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK,” along with the hashtag #RealMenWearMasks.
The mask order will take effect Wednesday and remain in place until at least Jan. 8, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The newly-implemented mask order requires the use of face masks while in all indoor public spaces and while riding on public transportation such as taxis, private car services and rise-sharing vehicles. Those who cannot wear a mask because of medical conditions are exempt from the order.
Sixteen Wyoming counties have already implemented some type of mask mandate prior to Gordon’s latest orders on Monday.
The governor also reduced the number of people allowed in gatherings to 10 or fewer. Indoor facilities may allow more than 10 people to be at their locations, but may allow no more people than 25% of the facility’s capacity.
Outdoor facilities may also allow more than 10 people on-site, but must limit the number of people to no more than 50% of capacity.
The order limiting gatherings does not apply to religious facilities, funeral homes, residential buildings or grocery stores. Nor does it apply to retail businesses as long as patrons remain at least six feet away from one another.
“Our state and those surrounding us are facing a hospital capacity crisis that now compels us to take additional action. All through the fall, Wyoming has seen a rise in serious cases of COVID to a point where every county is facing critical and dangerous levels of spread of the virus. Too many people have died,” Gordon said in a news release.
“Science tells us limiting gatherings of groups and using face coverings are effective in slowing transmission of this virus. With these actions we can avoid taking the more drastic step of closing schools and businesses.”
Also approved was an order limiting the number of hours restaurants and bars allow on-site service.
Under the order, such businesses must close their doors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., although they can continue to provide takeout and delivery service during those hours.