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Counties Begin Opening Restaurants, Churches And Other Public Places

Flickr Creative Commons/Jasperdo

Governor Mark Gordon gave county officials permission to apply for variances so they can begin lifting pandemic restrictions. Church services can now be held in Platte and Niobrara Counties, and Lincoln, Park and Natrona Counties will allow restaurants to offer dine-in services. 

Natrona County Commission Chair Rob Hendry said that at first the restaurant openings will just be outdoors, and require a lot of safety procedures.

"They've got to maintain social distancing," said Hendry. "There's going to be hand sanitizers and when they're walking into the building, they'll possibly request that they wear masks. The food service when we talked last week would be wearing masks. But to try to get open. I mean, people are over this."

He said each county has to make its own decision about whether it's time, but "they all have one thing in common, and that is that they need to get open to start making money," said Hendry. "And as a county official, we need those businesses open to start helping with sales tax. I mean, that's what runs counties and that's what runs the state."

Hendry said Wyoming has a double whammy.

"We've had the COVID-19 but then we've had an unprecedented fall in energy prices. And that's a double hit for the state, and we need to get back to going on."

Hendry said he feels it's safe to start lifting restrictions because Natrona County hasn't seen as much community spread as other counties. It currently has 38 confirmed cases, the fourth highest number of cases in the state. The state has 444 confirmed cases and, so far, seven people have died of the disease.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Melodie Edwards, at medward9@uwyo.edu.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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