Governor Steve Bullock announced during a news conference on Wednesday a three-phase plan to "re-open" Montana, as closures and restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 will be gradually rescinded.
Among the highlights of the plan is that many retail businesses can become operational beginning on April 27, and restaurants, bars, casinos, and breweries can become operational beginning on May 4 in accordance with the guidelines listed below. Scroll down for links to the complete plan and key points.
- The "stay at home order" will expire on April 26 for individuals and April 27 for businesses. Retail businesses can become operational on or after April 27 if they can adhere to requirements to limit capacity and maintain strict physical distancing.
- Restaurants, bars, breweries, and distilleries can begin providing some in-establishment services beginning May 4.
- Businesses where groups gather without the ability to social distance including movie theaters, gyms, and other places of assembly remain closed.
- Places of worship can become operational on April 26 in a manner consistent with social distancing between people who are not members of the same household.
- On May 7, all schools will have the option to return to in-classroom teaching delivery at the discretion of local school boards. The Directive does not preclude school boards from declaring local emergencies to continue to receive all appropriate state funding to continue to provide remote learning. NOTE: Great Falls Public Schools superintendent Tom Moore told KRTV on Monday that the Board of Trustees has not yet decided whether to resume on-campus classes; he expects a decision to be made on Monday evening during a meeting.
- Montana’s travel quarantine will remain in effect and out of state travelers and residents arriving from another state or country back to Montana for non-work related purposes are required to quarantine for 14 days.
The plan includes several phases and highlights the factors that will determine when it is appropriate to move to the second phase of reopening. That decision will be driven by conditions on the ground and the latest data, according to Bullock.
The "Re-opening The Big Sky" plan is divided into three phases; here is a summary of some of the key points of the first phase:
PHASE ONE: SPECIFIC TYPES OF EMPLOYERS/ACTIVITIES
- RESTAURANTS / BARS / BREWERIES / DISTILLERIES / CASINOS can become operational on or after May 4, under strict physical distancing and reduced capacity protocols in accordance with State guidelines. All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11:30.
- RETAIL BUSINESSES can become operational on or after Monday, April 27, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained.
- GYMS / POOLS / HOT TUBS remain closed.
- PERSONAL CARE (SALONS, MASSAGE, BODY ART, ETC.) Operations that require close personal contact for an extended period result in exposing staff and customers to greater levels of risk. These situations require additional safety and health precautions. Stylist / artist / service-provider and customer would be a “station” that would be 6 feet away from other “stations”. • Provide for 6 feet of physical distancing between stations, this may require: • A reduction in capacity; • Increasing spacing, removing stations, or marking stations as closed; • Providing for a physical barrier between stations; • A reduction of seating in service and waiting areas; or • Systems that reduce the amount of contact time between customers and staff.
- SENIOR LIVING OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES must continue to prohibit visitors. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed. This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.
- OUTDOOR RECREATION can become operational if sites adhere to strict physical distancing between groups and exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open.
- PLACES OF WORSHIP can become operational on or after Sunday, April 26, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members.
- OTHER PLACES OF ASSEMBLY shall remain closed (e.g., movie and performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls).
PHASE ONE: INDIVIDUALS
- ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to follow the stay home guidance. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.
- Vulnerable Individuals: people over 65 years of age and/or those with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
- All individuals (non-household), WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. • Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
- MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to Montana guidelines regarding quarantine.
PHASE ONE: EMPLOYERS
- Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
- When telework is not feasible it is encouraged to ACCOMMODATE ALTERNATE WORK SCHEDULES such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact; or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
- MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS TRAVEL.
- SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS should be made for members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION or those with vulnerable household members.
The above information is just a brief summary of key points; click the links below for more details.
As of Wednesday morning (April 22), there have been a total of 439 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, an increase of two since Tuesday. The two new cases are in Missoula County and Yellowstone County.
- There have been 14 deaths in Montana to date. There have been six deaths in Toole County, two in Cascade County, two in Flathead County, and one each in Lincoln County, Madison County, Missoula County, and Yellowstone County.
- There have now been 59 hospitalizations to date of COVID-19 patients in Montana; 13 of those are considered "active (current) hospitalizations."
- There have been a total of 296 recovered patients to date. The number of recoveries by county has not been released at this point.
- The DPHHS public health lab has completed 11,583 tests for COVID-19, including 342 tests since Tuesday's update.