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By Tim Leeds 

Bullock: Yellowstone entrances opening Monday

 


Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday that the Montana entrances to Yellowstone National Park are planned to open Monday, and while no date is set, the state is working with Glacier National Park to set an opening date for the west entrances there.

Bullock said during a Thursday press conference that the eastern entrances to Glacier opening will depend on when the Blackfeet Nation of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation lifts its ban on non-essential travel.

He said the state is working with Blackfeet officials and the other tribes in the state on their COVID-19 responses, including coordinating mass drive-through testing clinics.

Bullock said the goal is to start a phased re-opening of Glacier the second week of June.

He said repeatedly that a key to Montana continuing to proceed through the planned phased re-opening and to stay open is for Montanans to continue to do what they have done to flatten the curve of the transmission of the virus.

Bullock said the state is working closely with the park management and gateway communities to plan for re-opening, as well as working closely with other communities in the state and tribal nations.

Part of that includes increasing testing, both of symptomatic people and people without symptoms, and having protocols in place to deal with cases that are confirmed, he said.

“At the end of the day, we know that this virus doesn’t know jurisdictions,” Bullock said. “Making sure that everyone who wants a test can get one is a fundamental part of our approach in moving forward with re-opening, and this is something were working toward every day in in alignment with our testing target of eventually conducting 60,000 tests a month.”

He said part of the Phase Two re-opening plan, which lifts the 14-day quarantine for people coming into Montana from out-of-state, is to educate people about what the state and local restrictions are.

He said that will include working with local governments, and the parks, on providing signing and in advertising, both to notify people who are in Montana and to inform them before they come to the state.

Bullock said it is the actions of Montanans that have kept numbers so low in the state, and they need to continue practicing safety precautions, like staying home if ill, wearing cloth masks and practicing social distancing, to keep them low — and the state expects its visitors to do the same.

Part of the planning for the tourism season includes setting protocols on how the parks and gateway communities, and other communities in the state, can manage treating visitors who test positive, Bullock said.

He said he is working closely with the superintendents of both parks, and with officials and public health departments of gateway communities, in planning the re-openings and dealing with the tourism season.

He said the state continues to increase the amount of testing done, with the goal to be testing both people with symptoms and asymptomatic people.

“If anyone has even one symptom we encourage them to get tested,” he said.

Part of that is to be testing people on the front lines, who would have a higher chance to be exposed to the virus, so it can be found early and contacts traced and isolated, he said.

 

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