GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday issued a new directive to replace several directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor’s directive repeals some restrictions on Montana small businesses, including restrictions on hours of operation and capacity. However, this change will not override orders from county boards of health that have adopted their own capacity or hour restrictions. Several large counties, including Cascade and Lewis & Clark, approved such regulations in the last few months.
In a news release, Gianforte said "small business owners across Montana have worked to create a safe environment for their employees and customers while keeping their doors open. The new directive acknowledges the diversity of challenges businesses face in this pandemic, and affords them the flexibility to develop and implement appropriate policies based on industry best practices."
The directive replaces the 25-person limit on public gatherings with simple guidance that “any public gatherings or events should be managed in a way that accommodates CDC social distancing guidelines.”
Where industry best practices do not exist, the governor’s directive states that “such policies should be developed and implemented in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and guidance.”
Gianforte also outlined a path to rescinding the statewide mask mandate. First, the most vulnerable Montanans are being vaccinated. Second, the legislature sends to his desk a measure to protect businesses and schools from lawsuits if they make a good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of coronavirus and follow clear public health guidelines.
The new guidance goes into effect at 5 a.m. on Friday, January 15th. Click here to read the complete document.
“Improving our response to the pandemic has been my top priority,” Gianforte said. “Today, I am issuing a new directive that removes or replaces the cumbersome layers of the existing ones. These new directives are clear. They are practical. They are commonsense. And they are easy to understand.”