Wyoming will begin easing COVID-19 restrictions on some business May 1, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Friday afternoon.

In a press release sent out about an hour before a scheduled press briefing on the state’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Gordon said new public health orders will allow gyms, barber shops, hair salons and other personal care services to reopen starting Friday.

While they won’t be subject to mandatory nonessential closures that have been in effect since March 19, the state will allow them to reopen “under specific operating conditions.” It’s the first step in what Gordon said last week would be a “phased” approach to easing restrictions.

Along with personal care businesses, the state also is easing restrictions on day care operations and allowing hospitals to resume elective surgeries.

“These new orders start our process of getting this part of Wyoming’s economy up and running again,” Gordon said in the press release. “We have asked Wyoming citizens to make sacrifices over the past five weeks and they have responded. I want to thank these businesses for playing such an important role in our initial battle with COVID-19. Easing the restrictions on these businesses at this time is prudent and gets us one step closer to a return to normal.”

The limits in the new health orders include:

For gyms: Limits on the number of people allowed in a facility, retirement that staff wear face coverings and locker rooms remain closed. Gyms also can’t yet offer one-on-one personal training and group classes.

Child care operations: They may reopen or continue to operate under existing regulations that include groups being limited to fewer than 10 per room and following regular health screening and cleaning protocols.

Personal care: Nail and hair salons, barber shops, cosmetology, electrology and other esthetic services may open in a limited capacity. This also includes massage therapy services, tattoo and body art parlors. They also must follow limitations for the number of clients inside at a time, wearing face coverings and eliminating waiting areas.

Elective surgeries: These will be allowed effective immediately, under certain conditions similar to those for the other orders.

Businesses are not required to reopen, the press release said, and those that choose to stay closed are still eligible for assistance from Small Business Administration programs.

Along with easing the restrictions on some businesses, the governor has extended another public health order limiting public gatherings to 10 or fewer people through May 15.

County public health officers also can submit requests to the Wyoming Department of Health for variances of any of the statewide orders if local conditions allow.

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