Governor Steve Bullock on Tuesday announced the state will move to phase two of the "Reopening The Big Sky" plan on Monday, June 1st. During a news conference, Bullock noted that Montana continues to have the lowest number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations per capita in the nation.
Bullock outlined the following indicators which prompted him - in consultation with public health officials and disaster response personnel - to move into Phase Two beginning on June 1:
- A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.
- The current ability to contact and trace, along with plans to add additional contact tracers to the existing workforce.
- Ensuring that health care workers have the supplies they need to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
- Ramping up testing capacity to eventually meet a target of 60,000 tests a month and prioritizing testing for vulnerable Montanans and tribal communities. A total of 5,600 tests were conducted last week. Increased testing continues with sentinel testing efforts in nursing homes and assisting living facilities, testing events in tribal areas, and drive through testing being conducted at a few sites.
Here are some of the highlights of phase two:
- Avoid gatherings in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. Groups larger than 50 people should be cancelled unless physical distancing can be maintained. It is recommended to continue to social distance in gatherings of any size.
- Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos remains in the same operations status as Phase One, but with an increase to 75% capacity.
- Gyms, indoor group fitness classes, pool, and hot tubs can operate at 75% capacity and only if they can adhere to strict physical distancing and they exercise frequent sanitation protocols.
- Concert halls, bowling alleys, and other places of assembly may operate with reduced capacity and if they adhere to strict physical distancing guidelines.
- All businesses are required to follow the social distancing and sanitation guidelines established in Phase One, and Montanans are strongly encouraged to continue sanitation practices, including hand washing and wearing masks in public places like grocery stores.
“Social distancing, wearing a cloth mask, washing your hands, and sanitizing are all part of our new normal. If not for you, do it for others, especially for the most vulnerable among us,” Bullock said. “Not following these guidelines could put us in a position where we have to go backward, instead of being able to continue to move forward.”
Vulnerable Montanans should still continue to stay home when possible during Phase Two. Visitation at nursing home and assisted living facilities remains suspended except for certain compassionate care situations.
Also effective June 1, the 14-day travel quarantine for out-of-state travelers and residents arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes will be lifted. The Montana National Guard will continue to conduct screenings in airports and train depots and refer anyone with COVID-19-related symptoms to local public health officials.
To support Montana’s destination communities, the state will assist with establishing the following protocols:
- Surveillance testing of employees.
- Enhanced contact tracing resources deployed to these areas as requested by local authorities.
- Ability to surge personal protective equipment to impacted health care systems.
- Guidelines for operation for business that see high-tourist activity.
“Montana has been an example for the rest of the nation in our response to this global pandemic. I have no doubt that we can continue to be that example, but only if Montanans, businesses, and visitors alike continue to take seriously the responsibility we all have in protecting others,” Bullock said. “As we continue with the next phase in our reopening, our goal together as Montanans for the foreseeable future is to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
Here are links to the original re-opening plan: