Some Wyoming bars defy virus health order limiting hours
CODY, Wyo. (AP) — Some bars in northwestern Wyoming are defying a statewide public health order to close earlier than usual to discourage spread of the coronavirus.
They include the Elkhorn Bar and Grill in Meeteetse and Red Zone Sports Bar and Grill in Powell, the Cody Enterprise reports.
Public health orders announced by Gov. Mark Gordon on Dec. 7 require bars and restaurants to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through at least Jan. 8. The goal is to discourage people from gathering in situations that make virus spread more likely while stopping short of closing bars and restaurants completely.
“This is not an anti-authority grab here for us. This is nothing to do with the local town council, or sheriff deputies, or the Park County sheriff or anything – we respect all those people,” Elkhorn co-owner Magnum Faust said. “This is about this ridiculous mandate.”
The Elkhorn also wasn’t enforcing a statewide mask mandate Gordon announced on the same day as the overnight-hours restriction, the newspaper said.
Red Zone Sports Bar and Grill, meanwhile, has begun claiming to be a “travel center” in an attempt to be exempted from the health restrictions.
“We’ve been charging electric vehicles all summer,” owner James Andrews said.
Law enforcement officers have visited both establishments but say they will focus on public education rather than citations to get people to follow the public health orders.
Park County Commissioner Dossie Overfield said she understood that businesses need to remain viable but sided with public health experts.
“It’s been proven that when people imbibe in alcohol they get kind of lax with taking precautions,” Overfield said.
As of Thursday, more than 2,200 people in Wyoming had the coronavirus and had not yet recovered, up more than fourfold since last summer. The death toll was 328.
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.