Governor Steve Bullock today issued a directive to extend closures of public schools and dine-in food service and alcoholic beverage businesses through April 10 and mandate social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Montana.
“Montanans have an obligation to slow the spread of this virus. Our fellow Montanans can all continue to set a good example for each other in adhering to social distancing directives – and know that it will save lives,” Governor Bullock said. “For every person who stays at home and avoids non-essential gatherings, the better our chances to fight this virus and protect our frontline health care workers and emergency responders.”
Governor Bullock announced that effective immediately, non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence of greater than ten people are prohibited, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained. This measure is consistent with actions taken in other states to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Retail businesses are also required to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies to ensure a minimum of six feet between customers, effective March 28, 2020. This requirement does not apply to grocery, health care, medical, or pharmacy services, although they are also encouraged to comply with social distancing protocols if possible.
School districts should follow the planning guidance provided in the March 19, 2020 Directive to seek waivers of pupil instruction time and obtain continued state funding during this period.
The Directive, like its predecessor orders, is a public health order enforceable by county attorneys. It preempts all county health ordinances if they are less restrictive.
Montana is also preparing for a potential surge of patients needing hospital care. On Monday, Governor Bullock announced a Directive that temporarily waives the bidding process to quickly procure or distribute emergency supplies or contract for additional space to care for patients. Additionally, the directive streamlines the process for releasing patients and discharging them back to their home communities without delay as they recover, which will free up beds and equipment for new patients.
The full Directive is here.