Governor issues directive for masks

Thursday, July 16, 2020
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Governor Steve Bullock on Wednesday issued a directive that masks be worn in public for certain indoor and outdoor events in counties that have at least four positive COVID-19 cases.

This includes Stillwater County, which as of Thursday morning had 13 total cases — seven of which were active. The state COVID-19 map does not reflect these numbers, which Stillwater Community Health officials are addressing. The directive was effective immediately. That directive is attached below.

“Governor Bullock issued the directive to require 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 is not possible or is not observed,” the directive states.

The directive is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public and when around people outside one’s household. Additionally, 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 and recommended consideration of broader policies requiring face coverings.

Bullock also said the following in the press release regarding the mask directive:

“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. 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.”

Children under 5 are not required to wear masks, but it is still being recommended.

The directive does not require face coverings in counties with three or fewer active cases

Masks may be removed while eating or drinking at a business or during activities such as exercising, giving a speech in front of a socially distanced audience or while receiving medical care.

Also, those with medical conditions that would make wearing a mask unsafe are exempt.

Under the directive, businesses, government offices and other publicly operating spaces will provide face coverings for employees and volunteers, and post signs stating that face coverings are required for people 5 and older.

The press release also states the following:

•Businesses, other indoor spaces open to the public and sponsors of organized outdoor activities may also deny entry, refuse service or ask any person to leave if they refuse to wear a face covering. If necessary, they may 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.

•Local public health agencies and law enforcement should focus their enforcement of this directive on education, providing warnings and education about the risk of transmission, while reserving the imposition of penalties, trespass enforcement, and other formal enforcement mechanisms for only the most egregious, repeat violations that put the public at risk.