Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Montana, US, to lift restrictions on additional businesses May 15, maintain other restrictions until further notice.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Billings, Montana
  • Butte, Montana
  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Great Falls, Montana
  • Helena, Montana
  • Kalispell, Montana
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Sidney, Montana
  • Baker, Montana
  • Havre, Montana
  • Glendive, Montana
  • Glasgow, Montana
  • Whitefish, Montana

This alert began 12 May 2020 12:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Montana (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Montana Governor Steve Bullock has announced additional businesses will be allowed to reopen starting May 15, while maintaining other business and movement restrictions until further notice, as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While the stay at home order has expired, authorities urge residents to maintain a proper distance from others when in public, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, to minimize nonessential travel, and for residents 65 years or older and those with underlying medical conditions to remain at home as much as possible. Face coverings are also strongly recommended for residents whenever they leave their homes.

Authorities in Montana will lift additional business restrictions May 15. As of May 12 the following businesses and services have been allowed to reopen:

  • Since April 26: Places of worship.
  • Since April 27: Retail and personal care businesses, including clothing and sporting goods stores, barbershops, hair salons, and massage therapy businesses. All workers must wear face coverings, and workers and customers must be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Since May 4: Restaurants, bars, and distilleries may resume dine-in services, and casinos may reopen. All must operate with a maximum of 50 percent their maximum capacity, and ban self-service.
  • Since May 7: Public schools may resume in-person lessons, following instructions from each local school board.
  • Since May 15: Gyms and fitness centers may reopen for registered members only, and pools within the facilities must limit the number of people to 50 percent its maximum capacity; movie theaters and museums may also open, as long as they limit the number of customers to 50 percent of their maximum capacity.


All businesses must enhance sanitation procedures, ensure the proper distance between customers and between workers, screen workers' health, send home those with symptoms, and recommend that workers and employees wear masks whenever possible.

Authorities in Montana also maintain until further notice the order requiring all persons entering the state for non-work-related issues to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of their arrival. People driving through the state en route to another destination are exempt.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the order at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose or further extend restrictions should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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