CHEYENNE — Citing a substantial decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon announced further easing on the state’s public health orders Thursday, along with an extension of the statewide mask mandate.
Some of the main changes to the orders, which take effect Monday, will allow for more people at indoor and outdoor gatherings that incorporate social distancing and face mask usage. For indoor gatherings that follow those health protocols, up to 25% of a venue’s capacity, or a maximum of 500 people, will be allowed – up from a previous limit of 250 people. Outdoor gatherings will be allowed to have no more than 50% of a venue’s capacity, with a maximum limit of 1,000 people – up from the previous ceiling of 500 people.
Gordon announced the eased gathering limitations in a news release Thursday, noting the substantial dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations across Wyoming. After reaching a high of 247 in late November, the number of virus-related hospitalizations statewide was down to 41 on Thursday.
“We are making good progress against this virus,” Gordon said in a statement. “Levels are returning to where they were before the dangerous spike in November, and some counties have lifted restrictions. This is good news, thanks to Wyoming’s people.
“At the end of this month, state wrestling, and shortly afterward, state basketball tournaments will happen,” Gordon continued. “We want to ensure these events happen safely and successfully for the athletes, families and communities involved. Our trends are encouraging, and our vaccination effort is progressing smoothly. These orders allowing larger groups and more capacity will lift up small businesses, keep schools open and get us closer to normal.”
The updated orders also eased restrictions on how many people can gather at restaurants and movie theaters, allowing for up to eight people from different households to sit together. Previously, that number was limited to six people. Additionally, the updated orders eliminated a limit on gymnasiums of one person per 120 square feet of space in a facility, though patrons must still maintain six feet of distance during workouts.
After reaching record heights in late November, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state has also steadily declined in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the Wyoming Department of Health reported 797 active cases in the state, the lowest level seen since late September. Gordon encouraged Wyomingites to follow best practices to maintain the downward trend.
“Spring is coming, and doing the right things now will allow us to have more people attending these events, have more people in restaurants and bars, and allow us to look forward to further easing our protocols,” Gordon said.
The governor also praised Wyoming’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Roughly 63,000 residents have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine, and of those, about a third have gotten their second dose, according to figures Thursday from the Wyoming Department of Health.
Under the revised orders, gatherings that lack any health protocols have been limited to no more than 25 people, although there are several exemptions to the requirement, including for truck stops, livestock auctions, faith-based organizations and parades. Previously, gatherings without any protocols had been to 10 or fewer people.
The orders, along the statewide mask mandate, have been extended until Feb. 28, the final day of this month.