The Wyoming Department of Health announced it's easing some restrictions on personal care services, starting this Friday, May 1. That includes gyms, daycares, barbershops, hair salons and other personal care services.
Businesses that decide not to reopen on May 1 will still be eligible for assistance from Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. Establishments that do decide to reopen must follow operating certain conditions like staff wearing masks, screening staff for symptoms of illness and limiting the number of people gathering.
"Some people will wonder why we are starting with these changes when they do involve close contact between people," said State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrists. "It is true you can't cut someone's hair from less than a six foot distance. But you can take precautions to help keep customers apart to reduce their risk and make the interaction between customer and clients more safe."
Harrists said it is important to reduce the amount of people gathering in one place. She said this is possible in personal care services, which will help reduce the risk of spreading the illness.
Individual counties can submit requests to veer away from the state wide orders.
"Variances are essentially county wide replacement orders that can be less or more restrictive than the current state wide orders depending on a specific situation in that county," said Harrists.
School closures have been extended to May 15 except for students with greatest needs. But Gov. Mark Gordon said now there will be greater flexibility for school districts on possible exceptions to provide in-person education as long as safety guidelines are practiced.
"Any school district interested in seeking a variance to the order must work with their county health officer and the department of education to develop a plan with clear protocols before considering all students back in building," said Gordon.
He said this plan needs to be developed for the spring, summer and fall semesters since COVID-19 will not be going away quickly.
Guidelines have been released for hospitals to begin elective surgeries again. Restaurants, bars and performance theatres are still closed. Public gatherings are limited to ten persons or fewer for another two weeks through May 15.
Gordon said he knows that restaurants and other establishments are waiting till they can have table service but he said in order for the reopening of the economy to be successful it be done slowly.
"I am certain of one thing if we get this wrong it is going to be devastating, more devastating to Wyoming and we lose that ground we've taken against this terrible virus," he said.
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