CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming will join a handful of states that have lifted mask-wearing mandates to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday.
The changes to the state public health orders take effect March 16. Also being lifted are requirements for bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms, where employees must wear masks while customers not seated in small groups keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart.
Gordon cited Wyoming's declining number of COVID-19 cases and success in distributing vaccines in lifting the restrictions.
Newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Wyoming have fallen to levels unseen since autumn 2020. They're down to about 60 per day after peaking at more than 10 times that rate around Thanksgiving, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
Almost 20% of Wyoming residents have received at least one dose of vaccine. Almost all of Wyoming's 23 counties have entered a phase allowing restaurant, bar, gym and theater workers to get vaccine shots, according to the governor's office.
"I ask all Wyoming citizens to continue to take personal responsibility for their actions and stay diligent as we look ahead to the warmer months and to the safe resumption of our traditional spring and summer activities,” Gordon said in a statement.
The statewide mask order has been in place since Dec. 9 and after an extension was set to expire March 15. States including Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Texas also have lifted mask mandates in recent weeks.
Children will still need to wear masks at school partly because children don't yet qualify to receive COVID-19 vaccines, state Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said.
Health officials will continue to recommend mask-wearing in public, Deti added.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.