CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon will soon lift public health orders that required Wyoming bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m., his office announced Saturday afternoon. 

Gordon attributed the change to a fewer number of state residents being hospitalized with COVID-19. 

“Thank you to the people of Wyoming who recognized the strain on their hospitals and health care workers and acted accordingly,” Gordon said in a news release. “I also want to express my gratitude to those businesses that adapted to these temporary measures. These have not been easy times for anyone. We are not out of the woods yet, but continued personal safety measures while the vaccine is being distributed will enable our state’s schools and businesses to continue to remain open.” 

The state also renewed its face mask requirement, which took effect Dec. 9, for the first time. Additionally, gyms will soon be able to allow 25 people to participate in group fitness classes, an increase from 10. 

Departing Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillette, is planning a march at the Capitol on Monday in protest of the state’s health orders. Clem said in a Facebook post announcing the march that its timing was inspired by the fact that the most recent health orders were set to expire later in the week.

Gordon’s office shared three other health orders Saturday that are each on their 19th continuations — all signed by State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist. 

The bar and restaurant restrictions, which Harrist signed Dec. 7, prohibited on-premise consumption at the businesses from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Businesses could still offer take-out during those times. 

The order is still in effect through Friday but that component will not be renewed, Gordon’s office announced. 

The health restrictions applied to “restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, cigar bars, and other places of public accommodation offering food, beverages, or alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption,” according to the previous order. 

As of Friday, 95 Wyomingites were hospitalized with the coronavirus. It was the first day that fewer than 100 virus patients were hospitalized in the state since Oct. 24. At its peak, 247 Wyomingites were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Nov. 30. On Dec. 9, the day the bar and restaurant curfew took effect, 206 Wyomingites were hospitalized with the virus. The state has recently begun distributing COVID-19 vaccines. 

Thus far, 438 people in the state have died from COVID-19. A record 223 of those deaths were announced in December. Health officials have said that trends in deaths from the virus tend to lag behind other data because of the time it takes for death certificates to be processed. 

“The Wyoming Department of Health will continue to evaluate metrics as the state emerges from the holiday season,” Saturday’s announcement reads. “Counties can still opt out of the requirements if local conditions move to safer levels in accordance with White House metrics.” The state’s newest health orders expire Jan. 25.

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