Governor outlines phased 'Reopening Montana' plans
Plan allows for businesses to open April 27, schools, bars and restaurants May 4
Last updated 4/22/2020 at 1:51pm
In a press conference at noon today, Gov. Steve Bullock announced his plan for a phased reopening of the state, with restrictions remaining in place through the first phases.
"Our new normal is going to look different," Bullock said. "This virus isn't gone for Montana."
Bullock said that, starting Sunday, his stay-at-home directive will be lifted, including churches being allowed to start in-person services, although social distancing must still be enforced.
Monday, main street and retail businesses can reopen, Bullock said, with requirements of social distancing and testing and regulating employees to reduce the chance people with the virus spread it to others.
Monday, May 4, restaurants and bars will be allowed to open to in-house business, with strict requirements of social distancing including limiting the number of customers to no more than half of full capacity.
Thursday, May 7, schools will have the option to start in-classroom instruction again.
Gymnasiums, pools and hot tubs will remain closed during phase one of the reopening.
General visitation to nursing homes also will not be allowed during the first phase.
Bullock also said that local jurisdictions will be able to continue with stronger restrictions and requirements than that state directives will require.
He said the first thing he wanted to focus on is what will not change: People are asked to continue handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, watching for symptoms and calling a medical provider if the symptoms arise, using nonmedical face masks if out in the public, and minimizing nonessential travel.
“And watching out for our neighbors,” he said.
He said care must be taken as restrictions start to loosen.
“Once we begin to reopen we want to be able to stay open,” Bullock said.
Bullock said the reasons for relaxing the stay-at-home order go beyond just looking at numbers, but credited the actions of local governments and Montanans themselves for the success in slowing the spread of the virus.
He said Montana has some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the nation, both in real numbers and in per-capita numbers. The same is true of hospitalizations, he said.
“We have flattened that curve and saved lives,” he said. ‘ … These collective actions allowed us to get to where we are today.”
While his plan includes a second and third phase of the re-opening, Bullock said monitoring and testing will continue as the reopenings occur and how it goes will determine how things will progress.
"I'm not putting an expiration date on phase one," he said.
Bullock also said that when the state would move to the next phases, or go back to more restrictive conditions, depends on what the state sees with the spread of the virus as restrictions are loosened.
“Note, please, that none of this is carved in stone,” he said.
The full outline of the phased reopening and guidelines for reopening are available on the state COVID-19 pages at http://www.covid19.mt.gov .
Watch for more here and in Thursday's edition of the Havre Daily News.