Governor Steve Bullock today announced further efforts to
protect communities heading into Phase Two of the Reopening the Big Sky Plan on
June 1, including additional resources for community testing and contact
tracing in high-visitation communities, an informational campaign to educate
visitors on responsible travel, and a grant program for small businesses across
the state to implement safety measures.
“As we enter the next phase of Montana’s reopening, we
are asking the same of our visitors as we do from Montanans – heed state and
local guidelines, engage in public health precautions, and exercise patience as
tourism communities gradually welcome visitors back,”
“We must all continue to work together to ensure that we can move
forward together, while protecting our residents and businesses alike.”
Governor Bullock also announced that he sent a letter to
Yellowstone National Park’s Superintendent Cam Sholly requesting that the park
reopen access to and from the park to visitors at the Cooke City, Gardiner, and
West Yellowstone gates effective June 1.
“I appreciate the coordination that Yellowstone National
Park has provided with state and local officials as we’ve developed a reopening
approach that more fully integrates the needs of Montana’s gateway
said Governor Bullock. “We will continue to ensure that we
remain in close coordination with the park and the surrounding communities to
create an effective early warning system that can serve to protect workers and
visitors alike, inside and outside the park.”
In addition to encouraging businesses in high-use, highly
trafficked areas to develop plans to implement safety measures for employees
and customers, the state will be providing support to destination communities
in the following ways:
- Implementing community snapshot testing for frontline workers at no
cost with need determined by local jurisdictions.
- Providing resources to local providers for community testing to
develop an early warning system for identifying new cases.
- Assistance with contact tracing in the event of a positive test.
Montana National Guard members currently on Title 32 orders have been
directed to take online contact tracing course and obtain a certificate,
adding an additional 150 contact tracers if needed.
- Offering financial assistance for safety measures to small businesses
to better protect their customers and workers.
education outreach campaign, including resources for communities, tourism
promotion organizations, employers and employees.
Utilizing Montana Department of Commerce data, destination
communities were determined through analysis of typical visitor travel in the
state over the period from June-September looking at the top destination
counties, as well as those counties that experience high visitation per
resident. Those counties are: Cascade, Ravalli, Lewis and Clark, Flathead,
Yellowstone, Missoula, Silver Bow, Sanders, Lake, Custer, Gallatin, Dawson,
Carbon, Big Horn, Glacier, Madison, Beaverhead, Park, Mineral, and Richland.
Other counties will be eligible based on identified needs.
Beginning Monday, June 1, additional financial assistance
through two new programs will be available to protect workers in Montana’s
travel destination communities and at other small businesses throughout the
state, as well as to educate travelers about the public health and safety
measures they are expected to follow to protect against the spread of COVID-19
The two new programs join the
nine grant programs funded through the CARES Act and announced earlier this
month, as well as the state’s suite of existing support services and direct
The Montana Business
will provide reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses related
to keeping staff and businesses safe – from the purchase of personal protective
equipment to resources needed for staff to work remotely. Eligible small
businesses must be Montana-based, have incurred eligible adaptation expenses
since Feb. 15 due to COVID-19, and be in good standing. Total funding available
is $20 million, the maximum reimbursement amount per business is $5,000.
Eligible costs include communications tools, remote work equipment, business
adaptations required to allow for better cleaning and social distancing,
cleaning supplies, and travel/hotel costs related to quarantining workers.
The Tourism Education Program will make available $15
million in CARES Act funding to carry out a statewide informational campaign to
educate visitors prior to and after arriving in Montana. The Department of
Commerce, in coordination with the Department of Public Health and Human
Services, is leading this effort. Commerce will be working with local tourism
partners across the state to deliver this public health and safety message to
A comprehensive information resource and application portal
is available at
The application for the Business Adaptation Program will be available on
Monday, June 1.