Elected officials discuss COVID-19 precautions

Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell speaks during a special joint meeting with town and county officials Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020, at Town Hall. The state granted Riddell’s request for variances to state orders loosening restrictions on some businesses.

Don’t pack your gym bag quite yet.

The Wyoming Department of Health granted Teton County variances to the two modified state health orders, effectively keeping most businesses closed until at least May 11. The state’s first modified health order allows gyms and child care centers to reopen, with restrictions, and lets restaurants do takeout from inside the building, rather than curbside pickup. The second modified order allows personal service businesses, like salons or tattoo parlors, to reopen with increased social distancing and sanitation.

Yet in Teton County, most of those businesses will not be able to reopen at the same time as their counterparts around the state. However, child care centers and restaurants are unaffected by the variances.

The state’s other health order, limiting gatherings to less than 10 people, will go into effect in Teton County as of Friday morning. The more restrictive county order that had limited gatherings to just members of a household will expire at midnight Thursday.

All state health orders remain in effect until May 15. Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond said the county requested May 11 as the end date for its variances because officials believe the pandemic is showing signs of slowing down.

“We felt that given our push for testing this week and next week, and the work we are doing with the Chamber on the guidance, we would be prepared — if numbers still look good on the 11th — to not ask for an extension,” she said.

Once the county variances expire, the state health orders will govern life in Teton County. Pond said following this round of orders, she expects the state and county to issue guidance for restaurants on how they can begin reopening in a limited capacity.

This article has been updated to show that the limit on gatherings in the state health order is nine people. — Ed.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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