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HELENA - A new directive will be issued, replacing existing directives regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and Montana jurisdictions were told to prepare to move into the next phase of vaccination starting the week of Jan. 18 Governor Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday.

“I’m encouraged that many localities are prepared to begin delivering vaccines under phase 1B, which is the most vulnerable in our communities,” Gianforte said.

Out of 12 counties that the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has reached out to, Gianforte says 11 have signaled they are ready to move on to phase 1B.

DPHHS has told jurisdictions to plan and prepare for phase 1B beginning the week of Jan. 18.

Those within phase 1B can get information on getting the vaccine by reaching out to their county public health department or an appointment scheduler General Matt Quinn said.

Gianforte also announced new directives regarding the COVID-19 pandemic to replace the current directives in place.

The governor says they carefully reviewed the pages of the current directive and consulted with public health experts, health care providers, business leaders and emergency management professionals before making any decisions.

“Gone are the 25 pages of overlapping and confusing directives, our new directive is clear, and it fits on three pages,” Gianforte said.

The new directive makes two significant changes Gianforte said, repealing existing directives restricting hours of operations for many businesses, and repealing capacity limits.

It also limits public gatherings in a way that accommodates CDC social distancing guidelines and keeps the statewide mask mandate in place at this time.

You can read the full directive here.

The new directive becomes effective at 5:00 am on Jan. 15, and local county health restrictions are not changed by the new directive.

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