HELENA, Mont. - On Wednesday, Governor Steve Bullock issued a new directive, which requires face coverings be worn in certain indoor spaces and for certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or more active cases of COVID-19.
Gov. Bullock says the directive requires 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 cannot be maintained.
The governor says 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. According to the state's coronavirus task force, in the last month the number of active COVID-19 cases in Montana has risen from 55 to more than 1,000.
"There’s 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," Gov. Bullock said. "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."
The directive does not require face coverings in counties with less than four active cases or for children under 5, though face coverings are still strongly encouraged in both cases. The governor says 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.
Gov. Bullock says businesses, other indoor spaces open to the public and sponsors of organized outdoor activities may deny entry, refuse service, or ask any person to leave if they refuse to wear a face covering. If necessary, the governor says they may also 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.
The governor's directive goes into effect immediately.
If you need to report a mask violation, call your county's public health department.