Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Montana, US, to lift stay-at-home order from April 26, most business restrictions April 27 and May 4.

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 23 Apr 2020 12:36 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 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 announced several measures in order to lift the stay-at-home order starting April 26, and lift most business restrictions April 27 and May 4, as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Starting 0001 April 26 authorities will allow most residents to leave their homes, but continue to require proper distance between individuals, and to avoid all gatherings of ten or more people. Officials also urge residents to minimize nonessential travel and wear a face covering whenever in public. Those considered vulnerable individuals, including people 65 years and older and residents with serious underlying health conditions, must remain at home, except to perform essential tasks, until further notice. Places of worship can reopen starting April 26 but must avoid gatherings of ten people or more.

Starting 0001 April 27, most businesses, including retail stores and salons, can reopen granted they follow certain guidelines, which include screening employees' temperature and symptoms, staggered shifts and reduced capacity, closing common areas where the personnel usually gathers, encouraging working from home whenever possible, minimizing travel, and enhancing hygiene and social distancing practices. Employees with COVID-19 symptoms must not be allowed to work. At personal care businesses, workers must wear protective face masks and customers must be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms.

Restaurants, bars, distilleries, and casinos will be allowed to reopen starting May 4, with 50 percent maximum capacity, maintaining proper distance between customers, and banning self-service. Employers must enhance sanitation and safety practices. Public schools may restart in-person lessons May 7, following instructions from each local school board. Some businesses, such as gyms, pools, cinemas, and theaters, will remain closed until further notice.

Authorities in Montana also extended 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 exempted.

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 are 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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Governor of Montana - Phase One of Reopening: https://covid19.mt.gov/

Governor of Montana - Stay at Home Order: https://covid19.mt.gov

Government of Montana - COVID-19 Updates: https://covid19.mt.gov