Friday, March 12, 2021

Wyoming and Alabama to end mask mandates

Wyoming Becomes Latest GOP-Led State To Drop Mask Mandate | Forbes - Alison Durkee:

March 8, 2021 - "Wyoming will lift its statewide mask mandate on March 16 along with other restrictions on businesses including restaurants and bars, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday.... In addition to lifting the mask mandate, restaurants, bars, gyms and theaters will be allowed to resume 'normal operations,' Gordon said, with more details on the lifted orders to be announced later this week. Gordon’s office cited the state’s 'continually improving health metrics' as the reason behind the change, as well as the governor’s 'approach of balancing public health with protecting livelihoods.'

"The governor had previously lifted some restrictions in the state starting March 1, including on businesses like salons and barber shops, but the mask mandate stayed in effect. Wyoming imposed its mask mandate in December as Covid-19 cases in the state surged, and it requires people to wear masks indoors in businesses, government facilities, healthcare settings and on public transportation, with some exceptions. The state currently has social distancing guidelines in place for restaurants that do not restrict capacity, but directs tables to be spaced apart and requires people to be seated at tables or booths, among other social distancing recommendations....

"Wyoming follows Texas and Mississippi in dropping their mask mandates, which has sparked controversy and been decried by President Joe Biden as 'Neanderthal thinking.' Montana, Iowa and North Dakota have also lifted their mask orders in recent months. The rescinded guidance is part of a broader trend of states getting rid of various Covid-19 restrictions as cases have dropped following a holiday season surge and as more Americans get vaccinated. 

"The wave of reopenings, which public health officials have opposed, has been seen in both Republican and Democratic-led states: Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont lifted the state’s capacity restrictions on businesses like restaurants and gyms last week, for instance, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday the state would raise capacity for indoor dining to 75% outside of New York City.

"Arkansas is poised to lift its mask mandate on March 31 if certain health metrics are met, and Alabama will follow April 9, after Gov. Kay Ivey extended her mask order last week for another month but said she will not extend it further. 

"A number of other Republican governors have been hesitant to follow suit and overturn their own mask mandates, however, with leaders in West Virginia, Utah, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland and Massachusetts all signaling last week they had no intention to immediately revoke their orders."

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