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Several Montana counties close bars and limit restaurant service

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Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 19:57:56-04

Several counties have ordered restrictions on restaurants, bars, casinos, and other food-drink establishments in response to growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus and comes after the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued guidance to restrict events to fewer than 50 people, and the growing evidence supporting social distancing, or the avoidance of large groups of people and close contact.

BOZEMAN: An order issued Monday by Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley imposes restrictions on bars, brew pubs, wineries, casinos, and restaurants in order to help reduce spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and slow down the current pandemic.

The order does the following:

  • Orders the closure of all bars, brew pubs, wineries, distilleries with public tasting rooms, and casinos in Gallatin County effective Monday, March 16 at 9 p.m. through March 24.
  • Orders restaurants to close dining room services during the same time period but allows take-out and delivery service to operate;
  • Allows limited exceptions for food service establishments that are the primary meal sources for a population that depends on it as one of its sole or primary sources of food, such a university-based dining facilities or cafeterias in hospital and care facilities;
  • The restrictions do not apply to grocery stores, deli counters within grocery stores, or convenience stores.

“Our goal in taking these actions is to slow down the spread of covid-19 in order to allow our health care system to prepare, build resources, and plan,” Kelley said. “We know these actions will create significant and lasting economic impact and disruption and we do not take them lightly. But in light of the current situation, we feel it is a necessary step.” Kelley said a major concern behind the decision is the potential for hundreds of people gathering for St. Patrick’s Day celebration in bars and restaurants all over Gallatin County. “This situation is serious enough to warrant school closures so it seems reasonable and prudent to put off St. Patrick’s Day celebrations until after a pandemic response,” Kelley said.

BILLINGS: All bars, restaurants, brew pubs, wineries, and casino in Yellowstone County will shut down at 8 a.m. Tuesday for one week, county health officials said Monday. Restaurants are allowed to sell take out food, according to the order signed by Yellowstone County Health Office John Felton. In addition, food service establishments that serve a specific population, such as a university dining hall or cafeteria, will remain open. The order lasts through midnight March 23, which is next Monday.

HELENA: The Lewis & Clark Public Health Officer issued an order closing most food, drink, and fitness establishments in the county, beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday, March 17. The order specifically applies to bars, breweries, distilleries, casinos, restaurants, fitness centers, athletic centers, gyms, and workout studios. It exempts food establishments that provide drive-through, delivery, or pick-up services. Sit-down dining is prohibited. The order was approved unanimously by the City-County Board of Health, which governs the public health department. It will remain in effect until March 23 at 8 a.m., pending further notice.

“The Board of Health, through the health department, has the legal duty to protect the public from the introduction and spread of communicable disease,” said Drenda Niemann, health officer. “We don’t make this decision lightly. We believe it’s a vital step in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

MISSOULA: Missoula City-County Health Department officials issued an order to close bars and putting limits on restaurant services starting on Tuesday, March 17 and lasting through 8 a.m. on Tuesday March 24th. While the order prohibits the operation of bars and dine-in food service, the order does allow for drive-thru, take out, and delivery service. It also doesn’t include food services that are a sole source of food for a population such as nursing homes, UM dining, or hospitals. Food services that operate in a limited capacity need to follow the food service regulations and additional guidance from the health department.

BUTTE: The Butte-Silver Health Department will close all restaurants, bars, casinos, and gyms starting at 4 p.m. Monday, March 16, and lasting through Monday, March 23, 2020.

We will keep you updated as we get more information about the impacts of coronavirus across Montana.We do not have all of the information about how this will affect communities across the region in this developing situation, as new information is being released almost hourly from many sources; we are working diligently to get more information and will keep you updated as we get details. If you have a question about a specific event, agency, or business, we recommend that you call the organizer or organization directly.

As of Monday, March 16, DPHHS has tested a total of 204 people for COVID-19; six of those results have been positive. The state currently has the capacity to test approximately 850 more people, and anticipates receiving more tests from the CDC as needed. Click here to visit the DPHHS website. DPPHS says that COVID-19 testing is available 7 days a week; for information about testing, call 1-800-821-7284. Here is the information that has been publicly released about the six patients:

  • Missoula County: woman in her 30s
  • Missoula County: man in his 50s
  • Gallatin County: man in his 40s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel
  • Yellowstone County: woman in her 50s; recovering at home; rcquired through international travel
  • Silver Bow County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Broadwater County: a man in his 50s who sought care in Lewis and Clark County; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state

In addition to the six confirmed cases actually IN Montana, there is a seventh Montanan confirmed to have COVID-19. That person, from Lake County, is a part time Montana resident with no documented exposures or close contacts in Montana, and was not tested in Montana. She was tested and diagnosed in Maryland, where she currently is residing.