BILLINGS, Mont. - On Tuesday Governor Steve Bullock issued statewide COVID-19 mitigation measures, but as cases continue to surge in Yellowstone County, Health Officer John Felton issued a new health order Thursday.

With just a week until Thanksgiving, a time where many families usually come together, that most likely isn't possible this year as Felton has extended the 25-person limit on indoor and outdoor gatherings until the end of the year.

Felton’s new restrictions will begin at 5 a.m. on November 20. All places of assembly like retail stores, bars, restaurants, casinos, hair and nail salons must close by 10 p.m. and can reopen at 4 a.m. The 50% capacity remains in place, and businesses say with the new limit they’re struggling.

Montana Brewing Company Manager and Bartender Mandy Easton say sales have been down and as they gear up for the new health order, they’re pushing take out orders, drinks, and gift cards to help them stay afloat.

"These small businesses thrive on the love the community gives them and we're really grateful for that and we look forward to continuing to serve the community of Billings in the best way we can under these restrictions, and we're just going to keep fighting," says Easton.

The health order also states all adult and youth organized athletic and performing arts groups can continue to practice if there's fewer than 25 people, but no games, scrimmages, or public performances are allowed. This doesn’t apply to school athletics.

The health order is in effect until December 31. Felton is also urging residents to stay home for non-essential travel, and as the holidays are approaching, he encourages families to keep celebrations small and use technology to connect with families and friends.


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