The Wyoming Department of Health and Natrona County Health officials on Thursday approved a new public health order that would grant county restaurants and bars to open for inside service starting Friday, but with certain restrictions.

This marks the second order to reopen certain businesses this week.

On Monday, the Natrona County health officers Drs. Mark Dowell and Ghazi Ghanem signed the variance to allow outdoor dining with restrictions.

The county sought the variance to Gov. Mark Gordon's first state of emergency order on March 13 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist approved the requested variance because Natrona County has 38 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 plus 10 probable cases, and 32 cases have recovered. The rate of cases has stayed stable and the county has received additional testing supplies and has conducted contact tracing to track new cases.

On Thursday, Dowell and Ghanem approved this variance. Dowell may grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Allowing indoor dining marks the next step that incorporates previous restrictions along with new ones:

  • All patrons of the business shall be seated at tables and booths.
  • Tables must be limited to groups of six, preferably of the same household.
  • Tables with guests must be at least six feet apart, from edge to edge.
  • In waiting areas, a six-foot distance must be maintained between parties.
  • The business shall assure that social distancing guidelines are maintained while customers enter and remain inside.
  • Staff shall wear face coverings at all times and perform hand hygiene between interactions with each table.
  • Cups, lids, napkins and straws must be handed directly to customers by staff.
  • Staff shall avoid touching items that have been placed on the table.
  • The table must be cleared by dedicated staff after all guests have left the table.
  • After the customers leave, staff shall sanitize the area including tables, menus, pens, salt and pepper shakers, chairs, and other items.
  • Consider the use of disposable items if necessary.
  • The establishment may not operate if personal protective equipment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants and sanitizers, soap, and other necessary cleaning supplies are not available.
  • Hand sanitizer must be available immediately adjacent to restrooms.
  • The business must cleaning and disinfect in the morning, afternoon and evening. All tables, chairs, door handles, floors, bathrooms and any high- touch surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected.
  • No self-serve food service or buffet options may be available unless food is pre-packaged.
  • Drink refills are not allowed in the same containers.
  • To-go boxes, pizza boxes, paper cups, and any other paper product that touches food must be regarded as food.
  • Staff shall use gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods and ice. Gloves are not required when handling foods that have yet to be cooked.
  • Employees must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or exposures to people with COVID-19 before each shift. Employees with symptoms or exposure shall not be allowed to work. Logs must be kept and available for inspection by the local health officer.
  • Self-service condiments should be eliminated unless they can be cleaned adequately between customers.
  • The business should encourage contactless and no-signature payment. If that's not possible, card and payment stations must be sanitized after each use. Staff shall sanitize hands between handling payment options and food containers.
  • The business shall maintain a record of staff working hours by date and time for purposes of COVID-19 tracing. If this record-keeping is done manually, the materials must be sanitized between each use.
  • Playgrounds in restaurants must remain closed.
  • No dart and pool leagues, dances, events or karaoke may occur.

The new order also allows gyms to operate, with the restrictions enforced by the business owner:

  • Locker rooms may be open provided that lockers are assigned and are disinfected by employees after every use.
  • Showers may be opened provided that proper cleaning occurs.
  • Despite the requirement that all equipment must be at least six feet apart, the best practice is to place it at least 10 feet apart.

A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year or by both such fine and imprisonment, according to the order.

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