Phase 2 statewide reopening June 1

Montana leads the nation with lowest number of hospitalizations and positive cases per capita
Thursday, May 21, 2020
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June 1 will bring the start of Phase 2 reopening of the state, with gatherings of 50 people allowed, restaurants permitted to operate at 75 percent capacity and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors lifted.

Governor Steve Bullock made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, crediting the advancement from Phase 1 to Phase 2 to the state’s adherence to social distancing, sanitization and restricted activity guidelines.

Important to local and state economy is the increased capacity operations of restaurants and eateries from 50 percent to 75 percent, as well as the opening of swimming pools, gyms and bowling alleys.

Montana has the lowest number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations per capita in the nation.

Bullock summarized Phase 2 as follows:

WHAT WON’T CHANGE

-All those at risk should still stay at home.

-Nursing homes will remain closed to visitors as a continued means to protect the most vulnerable.

-Employers should continue to encourage telework where possible.

-All previously issued guidelines should be followed.

WHAT WILL CHANGE

-Group size increases to 50 people, with social distancing continued.

- Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos can increase to 75 percent operation capacity, while maintaining social distancing and specific cleaning standards.

-Gyms, pools and hot tubs will be able to operate at 75 percent of capacity with social distancing in place.

-Bowling alleys and concert halls can also open, under social distancing guidelines.

-14-day Mandatory Quarantine for out-of-state visitors is lifted

Bullock, in consultation with public health and emergency response officials, had set the following parameters needed to move into Phase 2:

-A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.

-The current ability to contact and trace, along with plans to add additional contact tracers to the existing workforce.

-Ensuring that health care workers have the supplies they need to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

-Ramped up testing capacity to eventually meet a target of 60,000 tests a month and prioritizing testing for vulnerable Montanans and tribal communities.

Increased testing continues to be a focus, with a total of 5,600 tests performed last week.

Bullock also took time to praise local public health officials, saying nearly half of Montana cases were identified through contact tracing.

DESTINATION COMMUNITIES

Because certain places, such as West Yellowstone, are heavily used by tourists, the following help is being offered from the state:

-Surveillance testing of employees.

-Enhanced contact tracing resources as requested by local authorities.

-Ability to surge personal protective equipment to impacted health care systems.

-Guidelines for operation for business that see high-tourist activity.

WARNING

While Bullock noted the downward trajectory of cases in Montana is continuing and that the virus has been contained, he warned that COV-ID-19 is still in the state and will continue to be for some time.

“We will see people test positive every day for the foreseeable future,” said Bullock Tuesday.

He urged citizens to continue to faithfully continue precautions such as washing hands for at least 20 seconds, using a face mask in public if you feel sick, continuing to social distance and disinfecting surfaces.

If the state regresses, said Bullock, it will be because practicing those precautions has waned.

EVENTFUL START TO 2020

It has been an eventful and unprecedented start to 2020.

The COVID-19 virus made its presence in Montana known on March 13. Governor Steve Bullock closed all public schools on March 16. Shortly after, restaurants and other food service industries were closed to dine-in customers, leaving only delivery and pick-up intact. In early April, Bullock issued a Shelter-in-Place directive, restricting activities to essential needs. Also came the closure of all non-essential businesses.

All those restrictions remained in place until April 26, when the Shelter-in-Place directive was lifted and Bullock launched a 3-phase reopening of the state. Phase 1 will have spanned five weeks and included the gradual reopening on non-essential businesses and the reopening of restaurants at reduced capacity. Schools were also given the option of reopening for what was left of the year.