MISSOULA — At Thursday's Missoula County Board of Health meeting, the board adopted changes to the county-wide COVID-19 restrictions.
The rules will now become recommendations.
On May 11, when 60% of eligible Missoula County residents receive their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, the mask mandate will lift and become a recommendation.
People will still need to keep the masks on for large gatherings of 50 people or more.
Things like social distancing in public spaces, like bars and businesses, will also become a recommendation starting Thursday, April 15.
Missoula City-County Health Environmental Director Shannon Therriault emphasized on Thursday that Missoulians will still have the option to follow CDC recommendations they see fit.
"Really the expectation and the hope is that most people in Missoula will still wear face coverings when it goes to recommendations especially in public places where it's hard to maintain 6-foot distancing", said Therriault.
The Health Officer may reinstitute mandatory face-covering use if the incidence rate of new COVID-19 cases trends up, over 25 cases per 100,000 people on a 7-day rolling average.
"I've been getting a tremendous amount of feedback from the community of how well the county's done at running the vaccination clinics," Board Chair Ross Miller said.
Officials said this will be a step toward our old normal, "people, especially in Missoula were following what we needed to follow, and now we're coming out of it," said Therriault.
About 33% of Missoula County's total population has been fully vaccinated, Health Officer Ellen Leahy said Thursday.