Phase Two to begin June 1

14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors lifted

On Tuesday May 19 Gov. Steve Bullock announced Montana’s entry into Phase Two of the Reopening the Big Sky Plan, effective June 1.

Conditions remaining the same in Phase Two include: encouraging vulnerable individuals adhere to stay at home guidance, suspended nursing home visitation, employers encouraging telework when possible, continuing hygiene and social distancing guidelines, staying home if sick and employers following guidelines laid out in Phase One including temperature checks and frequent sanitizing of high touch areas.

Conditions that will change entering Phase Two include: group size may be expanded to 50 people in situations that do not allow for social distancing, restaurants, bars, casinos and breweries may increase capacity to 75%, gyms, indoor fitness, pools and hot tubs may operate at 75% capacity if social distancing and frequent sanitation can occur and bowling alleys and other places of gathering may operate with social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place.

The cap on 50 individuals is not an aggregate number; this restriction is in place in situations where social distancing cannot occur. Gov. Bullock encouraged those hosting events to work with local public health departments to find best practices for holding events with more than 50 individuals.

The Montana entrances to Yellowstone National Park will open consistent with Phase Two on June 1. Additionally, the mandatory requirement that travelers into Montana self-quarantine for 14 days will be lifted on June 1.

Part of this decision was informed by opening Montana’s Yellowstone entrance and understanding this would bring in travelers from other areas regardless. Gov. Bullock acknowledged the ‘practical realities’ that people are coming into the state and case numbers have been small since the beginning of Phase One.

The two-week gap will provide time for the state to work with gateway communities and Park officials. “In working with our state public health and emergency response experts, we’ve determined that as Montana enters the summer months, there are more effective and enhanced mitigation strategies that we can engage in,” Gov. Bullock said.

The state will work to provide test centers and ensure adequate supplies for residents, seasonal employees and visitors, along with developing a surveillance testing plan to create an early warning system for potential community spread in highly visited areas.

The Montana National Guard will continue to conduct screenings in airports and train depots and refer anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to local public health officials. Gov. Bullock was confident enough testing would be available by June 1 to provide adequate coverage to these gateway areas.

“This is preventable by continuing to take COVID-19, this virus, seriously. So, let’s continue our work together as we create yet another new normal,” Gov. Bullock said.

Montana continues to have the lowest number of positive cases and hospitalizations per capita in the nation. Since Phase One, 22 new cases have been reported.

Daily testing averages at the state level were approximately 500 per day last week, 3,496 total, up from 1,200 the week before. Testing materials have been delivered to 57 long-term and assisted living facilities. Twelve more will be shipped materials on Friday and the final facilities are expected to receive materials the week after.

Nearly half the cases in Montana were identified by contact tracing. The state is working to further this ability at both the state and local public health level.

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