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The crowd enjoys opening act Angus Mohr during the first Fridays on the Plaza of the year Friday, June 7, 2019, in downtown Cheyenne. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Due to concerns about social distancing and crowd control during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has decided to cancel this year’s Fridays on the Plaza events, according to Mayor Marian Orr.

After meeting with Community Recreation and Events Department staff Wednesday, Orr said they found the risk of the coronavirus spreading at each of the Depot Plaza concerts outweighs the benefits the event brings to the community.

“We want to be able to have our kids go back to school in the fall. We want to be able to go to football games in the fall. And if we ruin this by having a huge outbreak in July, it takes us into August; it goes further,” Orr said. “So the more that we can prolong events that bring us together in large numbers, I think the quicker that we’ll be able to get through this.”

Though the public health orders currently allow outdoor gatherings of 250 people, Orr and the Community Recreation and Events staff came to the conclusion that there’s no way to fully ensure the health orders are being followed throughout the summer event series. In making the decision, Orr said they took the concerns of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department to heart.

“We had plans for coordinating different sections of the plaza to allow for 250 in each section. ... But we know that, really, what we’re doing is just skirting around the issue and trying to make loopholes where there probably shouldn’t be, because this is still a very serious situation for our community,” Orr said.

Orr also noted last Saturday’s Summertime On The Streets event, where a number of residents attended without wearing face coverings or following proper health precautions. She voiced similar concerns about Fourth of July weekend, reminding residents that all it takes is one sick person to spread the virus.

“The longer that we stay apart, the closer we can come together,” Orr said.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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