CHEYENNE – Laramie County Health Officer Stanley Hartman issued an order Thursday morning closing some public places, including bars and restaurants, in light of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.

Later Thursday afternoon, Gov. Mark Gordon issued a similar order in conjunction with the state health officer to close some businesses including schools, theaters, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, employee cafeterias, self-serve buffets, salad bars, unpackaged self-serve food services, gyms, conference rooms and museums.

These closures will last through April 3. 

“This Governor has never been inclined to overstep local authority, but these are unprecedented times. It is critical that there is uniformity across the state in how social distancing measures are implemented,” Gordon said in a news release. "Wyoming, like all Americans, must commit to reducing the strain on our healthcare system. These are hard measures and they will be difficult for employees and businesses alike, but they are warranted.”

Restaurants can still utilize curbside take-out or drive-thru food service and childcare centers will also be closed except for those who serve essential personnel. 

“We realize this action will be very difficult for many of our residents," Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist for the Wyoming Department of Health, said. "But it is an important step to help them avoid becoming ill and to help them avoid spreading COVID-19 to those who are most vulnerable. We should all work together to help keep our friends and neighbors safe.”

Local elected officials are aware of the local order, including the Laramie County commissioners. Hartman said he issued the order in light of the recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laramie County and in line with guidance coming from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, President Donald Trump’s recommendations and the Wyoming Department of Health.

Hartman said in a news release that he “supports and encourages members of the public to practice social distancing in an effort to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our county, which will flatten the curve or the spread of this virus. We recognize that these are extraordinary actions, but COVID-19 is a serious public health challenge. This decision was not taken lightly, and will hopefully increase positive outcomes for our community.”

The closings are effective as of March 19 and include all theaters (film or stage), bars, nightclubs, saloons, taverns, self-serve buffets, salad bars, unpackaged self-serve food services, golf clubs, country clubs, all communal pools, hot tubs, locker rooms sauna rooms, fitness centers, gyms, conference rooms, museums, tasting rooms and any other “like” establishment or indoor recreations center.

All of these facilities are ordered closed in Laramie County, including the cities of Cheyenne, Pine Bluffs, Burns, Carpenter and Albin.

Restaurants can remain open for drive-through or curbside takeout, but dining in these restaurants is prohibited. Cash payments are strongly discouraged, while online and telephone payments using credit cards are encouraged.

Anyone handling cash or credit cards isn’t allowed to be involved with preparing, handling or delivering food.

Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said these closures will be in effect for the next two weeks.

In a joint statement issued with City Council President Dr. Mark Rinne, Orr said, "We want to express sympathy for those directly affected by this decision. We know that the next few weeks will be difficult for all of us. Particularly, for those that will be struggling to get by without an income. While we are disappointed in the decision to restrict businesses in Cheyenne, we understand the decision.

"Finally, we encourage all of us to follow the recommended guidelines. Please do not succumb to the hysteria and hoard food and household supplies. Think about your fellow citizens. Take care of each other and be safe."

Isabella Alves is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at ialves@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @IsabellaAlves96.

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