Gov. Gianforte announces new coronavirus directives
Onus on personal responsibility and flexibility
Gov. Greg Gianforte announced on Jan. 13 new coronavirus directives for the state of Montana that are intended to be for the health and growth of the economy and the community. The new directives move more towards personal responsibility than specific mandates.
“Gone are the 25 pages of overlapping and confusing directives. Our new directive is clear, and it fits on three pages,” Gov. Gianforte said during a Jan. 13 press conference.
The 3-page directive seeks to simplify and let Montana residents and business owners use common sense to address varying needs.
Reducing the burden on small business and keeping communities healthy are not mutually exclusive, Gov. Gianforte said.
“We have moved to general guidance that allows people to stay safe. We’re encouraging social distancing, masks when appropriate, appropriate hygiene, but we have removed any numerical limit on gatherings. The whole concept here is we’re going to move more to personal responsibility and way from specific mandates,” Gov. Gianforte said.
The new directives repeal any hours of operation or capacity limits and remove numerical restrictions, including the 25-person limit on public gatherings.
In any scenario where directives have been simplified, Gov. Gianforte recommended best practices—social distancing, temperature checks, sanitation, disinfection and testing—based on CDC guidelines, industry best practices and federal, state and local regulations and guidance be developed if not already in place. During the press call, Gov. Gianforte mentioned that schools should make the same reasonable attempts to follow industry best practices.
New directives are based on guidance from public health experts, healthcare providers, business leaders, emergency management professionals, scientific evidence and data.
“Currently we are following Gov. Gianforte’s directives as Madison County doesn’t have anything more stringent,” Madison County Public Health Nurse Melissa Brummell said. The Madison County Board of Health will be meeting in the next couple of weeks to further discuss the updated directives.
Brummell said the county will keep the 25-person maximum on non-business associated gatherings—outdoor events, weddings, etc.
“Madison County is seeing a great uptick in cases,” Brummell said.
Gov. Gianforte noted that masks are required in all indoor spaces, must be provided for employees and volunteers and points of entry must include signage about mask-wearing policies. Masks must also be worn outside if social distancing is not possible.
The vaccination process is part of the path to rescinding the statewide mask mandate, Gov. Gianforte said. As of the press conference, 42,000 Montanans had received the coronavirus vaccination.
“This is the path to the day when we can take off our mask, throw it in the trash and go on with our lives in a safe manner and I know all of us want to get to that point,” Gov. Gianforte said.
The new directives went into place at 5 a.m. on Jan. 15 and expire with the federal state of emergency.