Governor Steve Bullock today
issued a directive requiring face coverings in certain indoor spaces and for
certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or
more active cases of COVID-19 to slow the spread of the virus in Montana.
Governor Bullock issued the
directive to require businesses, government offices and other indoor spaces
open to the public to ensure that employees, contractors, volunteers,
customers, and other members of the public wear a face mask that covers their
mouth and nose while remaining inside these spaces. The directive also requires
face coverings at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, where
social distancing is not possible or is not observed.
“Many Montanans answered the call to mask up – a call that came
from our hospitals, nurses, and doctors, our vibrant small business community,
our frontline workers, and our high-risk neighbors,”
“I thank all of those who take seriously their personal
responsibility and their role in stopping COVID-19. But we need even more
Montanans, and the visitors who come here, to mask up.”
directive is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s
recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public and when around
people outside one’s household. Additionally, the CDC released a
study this week concluding that
“mandating the use of face coverings” in a salon in Missouri likely mitigated
the spread of COVID-19 and recommended consideration of broader policies
requiring face coverings. In the last month, Montana’s active cases of COVID-19
have risen from 55 to more than 1,000.
no reason this needs to be political, because COVID-19 isn’t political.
Instead, this is about being a Montanan and being supportive of those around
us. Montanans need to not only feel safe, but be safe to continue supporting
small businesses like restaurants, breweries, clothing stores, bookshops, and
more. And Montanans need to be healthy to work. Mom and pop shops in Montana
often have two employees: Mom and Pop themselves. If they get COVID-19, they
can’t keep their business running,”
continued Governor Bullock.
directive does not require face coverings in counties with three or fewer
active cases or for children under 5, though face coverings are strongly
encouraged in both cases. Other exceptions include children under 2, while
eating or drinking at businesses that sell food or drinks, during activities
that make face coverings unsafe (like strenuous physical exercise or swimming),
while giving speeches or performances in front of a socially distanced
audience, while receiving medical care or for people with a preexisting
condition that would make wearing a face covering unsafe.
the directive, businesses, government offices and other publicly operating
spaces will provide face coverings for employees and volunteers, and post signs
stating that face coverings are required for people 5 and older.
other indoor spaces open to the public and sponsors of organized outdoor
activities may also deny entry, refuse service or ask any person to leave if
they refuse to wear a face covering. If necessary, they may rely on peace
officers to enforce the state’s trespassing laws if a person refuses to wear a
face covering and refuses to leave the premises.
public health agencies and law enforcement should focus their enforcement of this
directive on education, providing warnings and education about the risk of
transmission, while reserving the imposition of penalties, trespass
enforcement, and other formal enforcement mechanisms for only the most
egregious, repeat violations that put the public at risk.
The directive goes into effect immediately and
expires at the end of the declared statewide state of emergency.