The Wyoming Department of Health now has allowed outside dining in Natrona County, a partial relief to area residents who want restaurant meals in a restaurant rather than just picking up meals curbside because of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Natrona County health officers Drs. Mark Dowell and Ghazi Ghanem signed the variance to an earlier order prohibiting dining in restaurants, and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist approved the variance on Monday.

The order noted that there have been 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Natrona County, and that number has stayed stable since April 23.

County health officers have reviewed the metrics and data, and believe an incremental loosening of the current statewide orders is prudent and warranted.

 

The loosened restrictions are a result of county residents's sacrifices during the last six weeks, including a ban on restaurant dining, as the county and state have worked to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a prepared statement from the Natrona County Emergency Operatons Center.

“We remain encouraged that our community will take this first sign of our lives returning to a new normal with the seriousness it deserves,” Ghanem said in a prepared statement. "We believe in our restaurant community’s ability to follow these guidelines in an effort to continue on our steady, data driven, re-opening of Natrona County."

The order has these requirements:

  • All indoor dining remains prohibited.
  • 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.
  • Eating establishments must post signs to remind people from separate parties to stand at least six feet apart, and waiting areas must have floor markers to indicate proper spacing.
  • 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, and other items.
  • Consider the use of disposable items if necessary.
  • The restaurant 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.
  • Restaurants must be closed for cleaning and disinfecting 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.
  • To-go boxes, pizza boxes, paper cups, and any other paper product that touches food must be treated 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.
  • Playgrounds in restaurants must remain closed.

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.

The Natrona County Emergency Operations Center is considering additional variance requests to send to the state for approval. The full variance for outdoor dining can be viewed at natrona.info.

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