BUTTE — Bars, casinos, and restaurants in Butte will be allowed to stay open longer after the Board of Health loosened COVID-19 restrictions Thursday evening.
After about a two-hour meeting, the board voted unanimously to allow businesses that serve alcohol to remain open until 12:30 in the morning.
“It’s a tough one, you know, we’ve got a decision to make that affects a lot of people and everybody, in my opinion, is an essential worker. From everybody’s point of view we’re all essential,” said board member Cindi Shaw.
The emergency meeting was held after many small business owners – especially bars and casinos - complained about 10 o’clock closing time. Before the board’s decision, about 10 people from the public called into the remote meeting to make comments – most in favor of extending the closing time.
“What we see in our business is we close at 10 p.m. and a lot of people are either going to house parties or elsewhere where there is no controlled environment, there is no cleaning procedure, there’s no social distancing,” said a caller.
“We’re not children, we have rights and we need to get back to work and get back to our lives,” another caller said.
The board only extended the closing time, but businesses are still restricted to 50 percent capacity and masks and social distancing are required.
“I’m sympathetic, I understand that income affects health and if you’re unable to generate income your health is going to be most lily adversely,” said Dr. Seth Cornell of the health board.
The amendment goes into effect immediately.