By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Gov. Mark Gordon announced Thursday that health orders restricting the size of gatherings will be eased, citing improvement in Wyoming’s coronavirus situation since the beginning of December.
The latest change is to increase attendance limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings as the state continues to make progress in its fight against the virus.
Beginning Tuesday, indoor gatherings that incorporate social distancing and face coverings are permitted for up to 25% of the facility’s capacity or a maximum of 250 persons, while up to 500 people will be able to attend outdoor gatherings, Gordon said.
“Wyoming is making progress and coming closer to safely returning to more normal lives, and the steps we have taken are helping us achieve this,” Gordon said. “I am confident that as our vaccination rate increases, the data-driven approach we are taking and our improving circumstances will give us more opportunity to further relax our orders.”
Since December, in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases, Gordon and state Public Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist issued health orders restricting gatherings to 10 people or fewer. The move was seen as one way to slow the spread of the illness.
Counties can still ask for permission to opt out of the new restrictions if local conditions move to safer levels in accordance with White House metrics. Health officials will continue to consider exemption requests for specific events on a case-by-case basis.
As of Thursday, Wyoming hospitals reported 81 hospitalized coronavirus patients, down from a peak of 247 on Nov. 30.
Health officials remain concerned about the new, more transmissible “UK variant” of the virus identified in Teton County last week. Currently authorized virus vaccines are believed to be effective against the UK variant strain.