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Gallatin Co. looks toward stricter restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

Posted at 6:40 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 20:40:38-05

BOZEMAN — On Friday morning, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health revised a local health rule that includes new restrictions on certain businesses intended to slow transmission of COVID-19.

The new restrictions went into effect on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.

The Board approved measures to address the rapidly rising level of COVID-19 disease in Gallatin County and throughout Montana. Gallatin County has seen rapid, widespread, and sustained increases in new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and outbreaks in several long-term care facilities for seniors.

According to officials, the rising level of disease is pushing hospitals in some Montana communities and neighboring states to near capacity, causing dozens of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout Montana, and driving up the number of deaths of those who contract the disease. More than 230,000 Americans stricken with COVID-19 have died since March.

The Board approved revisions to an emergency rule that governs how certain businesses – including bars, restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and places of assembly – operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes are intended to limit close contact between people and include:
● Moving the mandatory closing time for bars, tasting rooms, distilleries, casinos, and restaurants from 12:30 AM to 10 PM, and limiting group size at tables to 6 people;
● Requiring that higher-risk businesses – such as gyms/fitness centers, places of assembly, bars, restaurants, distilleries, casinos – limit the number of patrons to 50% of capacity. The Board’s current local emergency rules allow these businesses to operate at 75% of capacity;
● Limiting most physical group gatherings in Gallatin County to no more than 25 individuals, regardless of the ability to physically distance. This restriction applies to both indoor and outdoor events. Currently, the Board of Health allows groups of up to 50 people without social distancing, and larger groups if social distancing can be accommodated.

The rule revisions include exceptions for certain businesses and organizations where social distancing is most feasible, including houses of worship and certain places of assembly.

The restrictions will be in effect for 90 days or until the board revokes or modifies the rule based on certain epidemiological metrics.

The full rule can be found here.

An audio recording of Friday’s meeting can be found here.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department Call Center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for questions about COVID-19. Reach the Call Center by phone at 406-548-0123 or email at callcenter@readygallatin.com.