Wyoming eases restaurant restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

Posted at 10:48 AM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 14:35:01-04

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, working with the Wyoming Department of Health, has eased restrictions on restaurants even as cases of COVID-19 rise across the state.

The action was announced earlier this week in new public health orders.

According to a press release, the changes to Health Order No. 1 no longer require restaurants to space out seating in booths and increases the permitted number of persons at a table from 6 to 8 persons. Larger tables are permitted for members of the same household. This increase in the number of persons per table also applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings listed in Order No. 2. Outdoor seating is still encouraged.

“Even in the face of a rising number of active cases, we recognize that the restaurant industry has faced challenges throughout this pandemic,” Gordon said in the press release. “Nevertheless, they have really responded to ensure the safety of their customers. These are important steps that will help our restaurants recover and safely welcome more customers throughout the fall and winter.”

The updated health orders reflect Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) data that shows sit-down dining in restaurants has not significantly contributed to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. The governor expressed his desire to take an incremental approach to ensure restaurants can adjust to the coming cool weather months when outdoor dining may not be possible, the press release states.

The success of procedures implemented by K-12 schools across the state, including social distancing and mask usage, have continued to be effective in preventing widespread outbreaks. As a result, updated guidance issued to school districts will no longer require quarantine of close contacts if both the infected individual and those in contact with them were wearing face masks. This change in guidance is specific to schools at this time.

With COVID-19 cases rising statewide and data showing the effectiveness of mask usage in limiting outbreaks in schools, the governor and WDH continue to strongly recommend the use of masks in public settings where it is not possible or reasonable to stay physically apart. WDH also continues to stress the importance of staying home when ill.

“These are the times when we need all Wyomingites to step up to help us resume the progress we made earlier this summer,” Gordon said. “This current trend is concerning and I hope Wyoming will show her determination.”

Wyoming is also in the process of updating its statewide guidance consistent with federal regulations that permit indoor visitation at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That guidance will be published later this week.

During the past two weeks, Wyoming has averaged approximately 79 new cases per day, and the percent of COVID-19 tests with a positive result is 5.1 percent.

As of September 29, Wyoming has recorded 4,948 lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, 873 probable cases and 50 deaths. More than 164,000 tests have been completed by the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory and commercial reference laboratories.