Governor: "stay at home" order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Montana

Posted at 5:21 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 20:04:40-04

GREAT FALLS — Governor Steve Bullock on Thursday afternoon issued a directive requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all nonessential businesses and operations as efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continue.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday March 28; Bullock said implementation of the order will buy time for healthcare workers on the frontlines, and will limit long term impacts to the state’s economy.

The order will be in effect through Friday, April 10, and requires all businesses and operations in Montana, except for essential businesses and operations as defined in the directive, to stop all activities within the state. The Directive also prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or place of residence.

The order does not prohibit restaurants from continuing to offer take-out, curb-side, and delivery service. Click here for a list of Great Falls restaurants offering such service.


Essential services and businesses will remain operational and open. Businesses deemed essential are required to comply with social distancing guidelines when possible including maintaining six feet of distance, having sanitizing products available, and designating hours of operation specifically for vulnerable populations. Some of the key industries included in the "essential" definition include: healthcare and public health; law enforcement and public safety; food and agriculture; energy, utilities, and public works; transportation and logistics; critical manufacturing; hazardous materials; financial services. More guidance on the term and what it applies to can be found by clicking here.

Under the directive, Montanans may leave their homes for essential activities, including:

  • For health and safety. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional.
  • For necessary supplies and services. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies they need to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • For outdoor activity. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or in closed terrain).
  • For certain types of work. To perform work providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses or Operations or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Directive, including Minimum Basic Operations.
  • To take care of others. To care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Directive.
  • Bullock said, “In consultation with public health experts, health care providers, and emergency management professionals, I have determined that to protect public health and human safety, it is essential, to the maximum extent possible, individuals stay at home or at their place of residence. There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is causing a lot of hardship. It’s also causing incredible hardships for our frontline doctors, nurses and other hospital staff across the country.”

He added, “I am taking these measures today because we need to stay in front of this pandemic and slow the growth of infections. In order to have a healthy economy we need a healthy population. We cannot rebuild our economic strength without doing everything we can now to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus."

Employees who are not sure if they are considered essential should talk with their manager/business owner. Business owners with questions can call at 1-800-755-6672 and leave messages 24-hours a day and will receive a prompt response, according to Bullock.

In addition to the state-wide order above, Cascade County Health Officer Trisha Gardner said that her initial March 20th order has been extended in the county through 11:59 p.m. on April 10th. The order now includes salons, tattoo parlors, and several other types of business that are now closed to "ingress, egrees, use, and occupancy by members of the public." The order includes the following:

  • all body art, tattoo, and piercing establishments
  • all hair, nail, and cosmetic salons/studios
  • all hair, nail, and cosmetic schools/training facilities
  • all spa and massage services, except those massage services contained within state-licenses physical therapy or chiropractic services

As of Thursday afternoon (March 26), there are 90 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana.

Here is the current total by county: Gallatin 38; Yellowstone 14; Missoula 7; Flathead 5; Cascade 5; Butte-Silver Bow 5; Lewis & Clark 5; Madison 2; Broadwater 2; Ravalli 1; Roosevelt 1; Jefferson 1; Hill 1; Toole 1; Lincoln 1; Meagher 1.

There have now been seven hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana, according to the state Coronavirus Task Force. There have not been any deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19 at this point.

Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site.

As of Thursday afternoon, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 2,680 tests for COVID-19; that includes 476 tests conducted since Wednesday.