Protest embrace

Longtime friends Larry Archer, left, and Denise Willert embrace in front of The Office Saloon as bar patrons protest Gov. Mark Gordon’s public health orders that restrict bars and restaurants. The group of bar patrons are upset with how some businesses are required to remain closed after more than a month has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began while others are reopening.

Motorists heading down Highway 14-16 honked their horns and waved at Wyoming Biker Association Northeast Chapter members and supporters gathered outside The Office Saloon on Friday afternoon.

They were protesting Gov. Mark Gordon’s COVID-19 health orders that have restricted business, including bars and restaurants from serving customers in their establishments and on their property.

Orders still in place also limit social gatherings to less than 10 people.

On Wednesday, The Office Saloon owners were ticketed for violating state COVID-19 health orders for allowing people to gather and drink on the bar’s property. The ticket came after earlier verbal and written warnings from the county Public Health Department.

Restaurants can still offer takeout, curbside and delivery service and bars are allowed to sell alcohol through drive-thru windows, but they can’t open their buildings to customers.

“I don’t think it’s right, but I think everybody has their hands tied,” said Denise Willert, Wyoming Biker Association treasurer. “I think they did what they had to do. I don’t know. It’s bad all around. We need to trade governors with South Dakota, but I don’t think South Dakota would give her up.”

Leave it up to business owners

During the protest, Willert held up signs that read, “Every Job is Essential” and “Stop the Tyranny.”

“I am supporting getting people back to work,” she said. “Every job is essential.”

The signs were an expression of displeasure with restrictions that are crippling local and state economies, she said.

The mandates have caused many fundraisers to be canceled, including events the Wyoming Biker Association puts on to help kids, said local chapter president Misty Henaghan.

It also has cost Willert’s granddaughter an opportunity to go to her high school prom and she may miss out on seeing her friends leave for the military.

The restrictions have been frustrating for her grandchildren because they are social people, Willert said.

Those at Friday’s protest also were upset that the governor has eased restrictions on health clubs, personal care businesses and gyms, but not bars and restaurants.

“You can go downtown today and get your hair done and you can get this done, but you can't go out and have a sociable drink with your friends?” said Larry Archer.

It should be up to business owners whether or not to close down, not the governor, said Jeff LeGrand.

“If you’re worried about (the coronavirus) and you’re scared, don’t go out,” he said.

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