Wyoming is the latest state to implement a statewide mask mandate, with the order going into effect on Wednesday. However, Sweetwater County Sheriff John Grossnickle has warned the mandate is simply “unenforceable.”
The order requires masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as on public transportation, though those with medical conditions are exempt from the order. Gatherings have also been limited to no more than ten.
“Science tells us limiting gatherings of groups and using face coverings are effective in slowing transmission of this virus,” Gov. Mark Gordon (R) said, contending the steps will help the state avoid shutting down the economy.
“This is a necessary step to ensure a happy and healthy holiday season and a safer and Merry Christmas, and set ourselves in good stead for the new year,” the governor continued.
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“The deployment of the vaccine in the coming months will help put this awful virus finally at bay and bring us back to some semblance of normal,” he added.
Republican Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and John Barrasso (R-WY), as well as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), signaled support for the order in a joint press release.
“It’s not a cure-all, but wearing a mask and practicing social distancing goes a long way in stopping the spread. These actions will help protect our family, friends and neighbors while still allowing us to keep our state open and working,” the Republicans said on Monday.
However, the practicality of enforcing mask mandates has come into question yet again, with Sweetwater County Sheriff John Grossnickle and Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe stating they “remain firm in their assessment that the mask mandate as written is unenforceable under the law.”
In a statement Tuesday, the county attorney and sheriff said the current order does not allow deputies a means to separate those who are exempt from the mask requirement and those who are willfully violating it.
Erramouspe said in order to successfully prosecute a mask mandate case, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person not wearing a face-covering does not suffer from a mental or physical condition preventing them from doing so.
Thirty-eight states now have some form of a mask mandate, according to AARP’s tracker.
Joe Biden on Wednesday vowed to implement a masking plan for the first 100 days of a Biden administration, requiring masks “wherever possible.”
“Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days. Once we take office,” Biden said. “100 days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic act.”