By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday announced that many of Wyoming’s statewide public health orders would be relaxed on March 1, although the statewide mask mandate will continue until at least March 15.
This is the fourth time the mask order has been continued since it was enacted in December to slow the spread of coronavirus.
However, Gordon announced that beginning Monday, restrictions on the operations of barber shops, nail and hair salons and other personal care service would be eliminated completely, while limits on gatherings would be relaxed.
Gordon cited improvements in the state’s overall coronavirus picture in announcing the relaxation of the rules.
“If we continue on our current trajectory, I expect us to be able to continue to remove orders as we safely return to a new normal,” he said in a news release.
In addition to the elimination of restrictions on personal care service, the rules for attendance limits at events will be relaxed again, as will protocols for restaurant and theater operations.
Facilities hosting indoor gatherings that incorporate social distancing and face coverings will be allowed to admit up to 25% of capacity up to 1,000 people, while outdoor gatherings of up to 2,000 people will be allowed.
Restaurants will also be allowed to seat up to groups of 10 at one table — an increase from previous limits of eight — and open buffets and other self-service options.
In addition, sporting events and artistic performances will see participation limits eased.
“The efforts made so far have allowed us to maximize attendance safely at larger events like the state high school wrestling championships this weekend and the state high school basketball tournament that was canceled last year,” Gordon said.
Additional changes to statewide protocols are expected to continue as metrics allow, Gordon said.
Vaccination efforts are expected to help accelerate that process.
As of Thursday, more than 16% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine dose – one of the highest rates in the country.
All Wyoming counties are now in phase 1B of the phased distribution plan, which includes adults 65 and over, frontline essential workers and individuals with medical conditions that put them at higher risk.
While the statewide orders have been relaxed, four Wyoming counties have won variances to be exempted entirely from the orders because of improving conditions within their borders.