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COVID in Montana: Governor issues new guidance KXLH Helena
By: David Sherman
Posted at 9:08 AM, Feb 12, 2021, and last updated 11:09 AM, Feb 13, 2021
Governor Greg Gianforte on Friday issued two new directives and an executive order to update policies and guidance regarding COVID in Montana. The first directive rescinds and replaces all prior directives implementing Executive Order 2-2021, which the governor issued on January 13, 2021.
The new directive allows the statewide mask mandate to expire, and notes that local jurisdictions may still choose to implement their own mask requirements.
Ahead of Friday’s directives, several county and municipal agencies have already announced they intend to keep some restrictions:
- Mask mandate will remain in Lewis & Clark County
- Whitefish orders mask mandate extension
- COVID restrictions will remain in place in Missoula County
- Big Horn County mask mandate will remain in place
- Mask mandate remains in Butte-Silver Bow
Gianforte reiterated that providing incentives and encouraging personal responsibility are more effective than imposing what he called “impractical, unenforceable government mandates.”
On February 10, Governor Gianforte signed S.B. 65 into law, which provides a liability shield to businesses, nonprofits, and others who protect their workers, their customers, and their clients from the spread of COVID-19.
The state remains in Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan, which the governor updated on January 6 to protect the most vulnerable Montanans, including people 70 years of age and older, Montanans 16 years of age and older who have severe underlying medical conditions, and Native Americans and other persons of color who are at a heightened risk of severe COVID-19-related complications.
In keeping with Gianforte’s January 13 directive which removed restrictions on hours of service and capacity for businesses, Friday’s directive continues to encourage businesses to adopt industry best practices or public health guidance to protect employees and customers.
The news release also says that Friday’s directive also continues to promote the use of telehealth services, protect Montanans from eviction or foreclosure, ease licensing for healthcare professionals, and reduce regulatory burdens.
The second directive repeals the election-related directive dated August 6, 2020. The governor also issued Executive Order 3-2021 which rescinds Executive Order 15-2018.
“Our Constitution makes it plain as day: the Legislature makes our laws, not the governor and not the courts,” Governor Gianforte said. “It’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine how Montana’s elections are conducted, and it’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine whether an individual must disclose donations to a nonprofit group.”
“These issues are up to the Legislature now, which is where they should have been decided all along,” Gianforte said.
Governor Greg Gianforte recently announced that effective January 15th, new COVID-19 measures will be in place for Montana. You can read the new information here. While these guidelines have been provided in accordance with the state of Montana, please check with your county and local guidelines and follow whichever is most restrictive.
Governor Bullock issued a new executive order enacting additional measures in an effort to slow the transmission of COVID 19 Novel Coronavirus.
The executive order includes:
- Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos to operate at 50 percent capacity and close no later than 10:00 PM
- All public gatherings are limited to 25 people or fewer
- Face coverings will be required in all counties regardless of case count
As of June 1st, Montana will move into Phase 2 of re-opening. The guidelines include:
• Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
• NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL guidelines remain the same as PHASE ONE for individuals traveling into Montana and for Montanans returning home. • VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to adhere to stay-home guidance.
• Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK as much as possible and where feasible but refer to guidelines in PHASE ONE when telework is not possible.
• SENIOR LIVING OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES must continue to follow the guidelines of PHASE ONE.
• CHILD CARE FACILITIES can increase capacity if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented.
• ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES remain operational and should avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
• ALL BUSINESSES can remain operational and must adhere to physical distancing.
• RESTAURANTS / BARS / BREWERIES / DISTILLERIES / CASINOS remain in the same operational status as PHASE ONE, but with an increase in capacity.
• OUTDOOR RECREATION remains in the same operational status as PHASE ONE.
• PLACES OF ASSEMBLY can become operational with reduced capacity and must adhere to physical distancing. Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
Montana Directive Implementing Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020, Travel and Quarantine
On March 30, 2020, Governor Bullock Issued a “Directive Implementing Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020 and Providing Mandatory Quarantine for Certain Travelers Arriving in Montana from Another State or Country.” The Governor directed that
Any person coming to Montana from another state or country for non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. If a person will be present in Montana for fewer than 14 days, that person must self-quarantine for the duration of the visit.
Any person who has already arrived in Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose before the date of this Directive must immediately self-quarantine for the remainder of a 14-day period beginning on the date of their arrival in Montana, or until their departure from Montana—whichever is sooner.
Various questions have arisen with respect to this directive, after discussions with the State, we wanted to provide you the following information as you and your businesses implement this directive.
- There is currently no requirement for an employee to carry authorization from his or her employer regarding working in an essential industry;
- If a worker has been out of state, regardless of reason for leaving the State, if they are returning to the State in order to work, either on a specific project or to return home and return to their primary job in an essential industry, the 14-day self-quarantine does not apply. Some additional things related to this situation:
- If arriving by plane or train, the worker should be expected to be asked about purposes of travel, and have their temperature taken at the airport;
- If, after a temperature check the worker is suspect he or she will be asked to quarantine and their name will be submitted to the local health agency;
- If a worker is sick, he or she should stay home;
- Continue with social distancing directive, and a robust on the job monitoring and screening program;
- As appropriate communicate with the local public health agency, especially if work entails bringing a significant number of workers into the state or local community.
- Hotels should be receiving guidance from the State clarifying that the quarantine does not apply to those staying for work related purposes.
If you have further questions or would like to discuss please contact the MPA at 406-442-7582 or email us at email@example.com.
Late yesterday afternoon (March 26th) Governor Bullock issued a “stay at home” order in response to the COVID 19 outbreak. The executive order goes into effect at 12:01 am tomorrow, March 28th and runs through midnight April 10th.
The executive order lists numerous exemptions from compliance including businesses and operations identified in a Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS) guidance document released on March 19, 2020. The Governor’s order clarifies that the definition of Essential Businesses and Operations is meant to encompass the workers identified in that Memorandum.
The following positions in the petroleum industry have been identified by the DHS as essential critical infrastructure workers so are covered as exempt from Governor Bullock’s “stay at home” order. An addition to the DHS guidance and included in the Governor’s order are supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as petroleum and fuel.
Petroleum product storage, pipeline, terminals, rail transport, road transport
- Crude oil storage facilities, and pipeline transport
- Petroleum refinery facilities
- Petroleum security operations center employees and workers who support emergency response services
- Petroleum operations control rooms/centers
- Petroleum drilling, extraction, production, processing, refining, terminal operations, transporting, and retail for use as end-use fuels or feedstocks for chemical manufacturing
- Operations for maintenance and emergency response
- Retail fuel centers such as gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them
Natural and propane gas workers:
- Natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines, including compressor stations
- Underground storage of natural gas
- Natural gas processing plants, and those that deal with natural gas liquids
- Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities
- Natural gas security operations center, natural gas emergency response and customer emergencies, including natural gas leak calls
- Natural gas operations dispatch and control rooms/centers
- Drilling, production, processing, refining, and transporting natural gas for use as end-use fuels, feedstocks for chemical manufacturing, or use in electricity generation
- Propane gas dispatch and control rooms and emergency response and customer emergencies, including propane leak calls
- Propane gas service maintenance and restoration, including call centers
Urge your employees to stop all non-essential travel, business or personal. Travel increases risk of infection for your personal as well as business contacts.
Enable your employees to practice “social distancing.” Facilitate work from home for all non-critical employees. Cancel in person gatherings. Arrange for six-foot buffers. Supply hand sanitizer.
Maintain essential or critical services. Minimize non-essential activities. Work with local and State agencies to develop clear guidelines to protect employees who provide critical services to the public.
Understand that your employees look to you for leadership in these tough times. Share trusted information from health agencies and communicate consistently and clearly with your employees. Review latest guidance and show your employees what you’re doing to support it.
COVID-19 Energy Sector Response Efforts and Frequently Asked Questions
(U.S. Department of Energy)
COVID-19 Implications for EPAs Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program (March 26 2020)
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
FEMA has established a rumor control website debunking COVID-related rumors. Check this site regularly and please share widely in your network. Thanks for your assistance in combating bad information during this stressful time.