As some people get more impatient adhering to COVID-19 health regulations, Gov. Mark Gordon is reassuring Wyoming residents their efforts are being rewarded.
Relaxing more restrictions will happen more quickly if they “hold the line,” he said.
Starting Friday, restrictions on personal care services are being loosened to allow people to go to the gym, get haircuts and their nails done. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to ignore health orders that remain in place on other businesses, like bars, restaurants and nonessential services, he said during a Thursday afternoon briefing.
“Tomorrow, we’re going to see a resumption of many activities at some places,” Gordon said. Continuing to follow common-sense health guidelines “is your responsibility. This is your time to shine to make sure the ground we’ve made in this battle is not lost.”
In a conversation with a coal mine earlier Thursday, the governor said he was informed that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is holding mines responsible for any COVID-19 cases they might get. At a time when more than 400 Powder River Basin coal miners have been laid off in the past couple of months, it would be even more devastating for a coal mine to have a case of the virus.
“If we get careless and a coal miner were to get infected, that mine — already struggling under very trying circumstances — is held accountable,” he said. “So, this is not just about you.”
He said that even as Wyoming’s economy begins to open again, “social distancing will continue to be a part of our lives for some time.”
Gordon also said that the state continues to see it’s coronavirus curve flatten and that “Wyoming is ready to lead this nation back to full economy.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health is reporting the state’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 415, with 144 probable cases. That includes 15 confirmed cases in Campbell County.
More on camping
When state parks begin allowing camping for Wyoming residents only beginning May 15, people will have to use an online reservation system and not all campsites will be made available to keep camp groups more isolated, said Darin Westby, director for Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.
Those groups also can’t have more than 10 people, he said, adding that there also won’t be any first-come, first-served camping available. While people can still arrive without having made a reservation, they’ll have to make one if they find a campsite that’s available.
“I wish we could flip a switch and get Wyoming camping this weekend,” he said. But that’s not possible.
He also provided more detail about allowing camping again.
- Only single-unit campsites will be available.
- ins and yurts will be available for three-day reservations, Friday-Sunday. That’s so parks staff can fully clean and disinfect them between reservations.
- All playgrounds, group shelters and sites, an some indoor facilities will remained closed. This includes bathrooms and showers. Westby said that’s in line with gyms and spas, which will be allowed to reopen Friday, but not their locker rooms.
- Social distancing should be observed at all areas where people can gather, like boat ramps and fish cleaning stations.
For people who think the regulations are unenforceable, Westby said to think again. State Parks has law enforcement officers who will patrol campgrounds and check for compliance. That includes verifying reservations, license plates, that fees have been paid and that people are in the right spots.
He also said that if there’s an uptick in state COVID-19 cases or his agency has trouble with too many people abusing the rules, the state could be force to reinstate camping restrictions.
“Let’s hope we don’t have to go that route,” Westby said. “We implore all users to recreate responsibly.”
Whether outdoors or in their communities, Gordon urged people to maintain their focus on safety to emerge from the pandemic sooner rather than later.
“Do the right thing,” he said. “Do it right away and do it the right way.”
Along with Gordon’s continued urging for people to follow state health orders, Campbell County, city of Gillette and town of Wright have issued a joint statement warning businesses violation of health regulations won’t be tolerated.
The statement was released Thursday afternoon, a day after The Office Saloon in Campbell County was ticketed for having a large group of people drinking outside the bar on its property.
The same day, Gillette Police issued a warning to Uncle Fredie’s Junkyard Grill for having a group of about 20 people outside its building drinking and eating.
“We understand the impact on local businesses and their patrons,” the statement says. “We are as eager as everyone to get back to business as usual.”
Elsewhere around Wyoming, officials in Sheridan County have requested variances to state health orders to allow restaurants to offer outside dining and for churches to offer modified services, according to the Wyoming News Exchange. Park County also wants to allow outside dining.
The joint statement of local officials doesn’t address whether Campbell County will apply for any variances. It does say that while the new health orders in effect Friday impact personal care services and other businesses like day cares and hospitals, they “do not include the reopening of bars and restaurants for on-premise consumption at this time and they have penalties that must be enforced.
“Any bar, restaurant or other business specifically mentioned in the public health order that begins operations outside the guidelines set forth may be subject to fines and/or closure.
“Until the state public health order expires (May 15), we are asking that all businesses and individuals adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Wyoming Department of Health and Governor Gordon.”