WHITEFISH — (UPDATE: 3:36 p.m.) The Whitefish City Council voted Monday night to continue the local mask mandate in response to Gov. Greg Gianforte's previous indication that he would lift the statewide mask wearing directive.
City officials say this emergency ordinance will be in effect for 90 days and is for the safety of businesses and residents.
The ordinance states that businesses or government offices are required to ensure all employees, customers, or other members of the public wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times while visiting indoor spaces open to the public.
Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld says this ordinance ensures the ability for businesses to remain open, and the health care system to not become overwhelmed.
“We are prepared to extend the mask ordinance to keep our schools open to protect our businesses in the employees that work in the downtown -- and most importantly to support our health care system," Muhlfeld told MTN News.
"In our health care workers this is about public health and safety and we're committed to ensuring the safety of both our residents and visitors alike," he continued.
The exceptions for the mask ordinance are children under five years old, and those eating or drinking at an establishment while seated.
(First Report: 11:03 a.m.) The Whitefish City Council reinstated the Emergency Ordinance which requires the continued use of face coverings.
The announcement came in case Gov. Greg Gianforte lifts the existing statewide mask mandate. The City of Whitefish noted in a news release that current medical and scientific evidence indicates that wearing face masks reduces the transmission of COVID-19.
The ordinance requires that "all businesses, government offices, or other persons responsible for indoor spaces open to the public shall require and take reasonable measures to ensure that all employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, or other members of the public wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times while entering or remaining in any indoor spaces open to the public."
For any outdoor gatherings, "Where social distancing is not possible or is not observed, sponsors shall require and take reasonable measures to ensure that all persons attending an organized outdoor activity wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times."
Exceptions to the ordinance include:
- Children under the age of five.
- Persons consuming food or drinks in an establishment that offers food or drinks for sale while seated.
Further exceptions can be found here.