Reopening Montana’s economy: restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos
Madison County embarked on another stage of Montana’s partially reopening economy May 4.
Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos were allowed to reopen under strict physical distancing protocols
and sanitation practices. Most of Montana’s on-premises dining and beverage businesses have been closed since March 24, when the Governor’s Office issued a statewide closure in response to COVID-19.
“Excited, nervous – I just don’t want to go back to this point,” Tavern 287 owner Bruce Eiting said. “I hope we’re not doing it too soon, but we won’t know until we try.”
The capacities of Madison County’s dining and beverage businesses will be cut in half. Patrons cannot be served at bars or counters and are limited to six- people groups. Spacing between tables, groups and gaming machines have to adhere to social distancing standards. Proper sanitation has to be implemented, and employees have to be trained to administer it regularly and in between customers.
Madison County’s Public Health Director Melissa Brummel said there is no right time to begin reopening the county.
“I believe we need to move forward at some point,” Brummel said. “It’s trial and error.”
Madison County’s Main Street businesses will be a remnant of its typical summer bustle. The restrictions will continue for the foreseeable future. There is no expiration date for Montana’s phase one of reopening. The loosened restrictions of the second phase are dependent on the successes of the first phase. “My biggest concern is the bars, breweries and places serving drinks because the loss of inhibition that comes with alcohol,” Brummel said. “We will have to be forgiving with each other and businesses, as long as we make the best decisions based on the most current information we have.”