• Administrative Assistant

Directive on Implementing and Establishing Phase 2 of Reopening

This Directive provides the conditions for the second phase of the phased reopening of Montana. Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020 declare that a state of emergency exists in Montana due to the global outbreak of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.

For the duration of the emergency, § 10-3-104(2)(a), MCA, provides authority to the Governor to “suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or orders or rules of any state agency if the strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, or rule would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency or disaster.” Further, the statute authorizes the Governor to “control ingress and egress to and from an incident or emergency or disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises within the area.” Section 10-3-104(2)(c), MCA. In addition, Montana’s public health laws authorize the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS or Department), acting under the Governor’s direction, to “issue written orders for correction” of “conditions of public health importance,” to “prevent and mitigate conditions of public health importance” through measures including “isolation and quarantine” and “abatement of public health nuisances.” Section 50-1-202, MCA. The Department, under the Governor’s direction, may take action to correct public health deficiencies in “buildings or facilities where persons assemble.” Section 50-1-203, MCA. The Department, under the Governor’s direction, is also authorized to impose quarantine and isolation measures to protect public health. Section 50-1-204, MCA. Montana law provides that these authorities will be utilized to respond to an “outbreak of disease,” § 10-3-103(4), MCA, and to “limit the transmission of the communicable disease.” See, e.g., § 50-1-101(6), MCA.

On March 15, 2020, I issued a Directive closing non-residential public schools in Montana through March 27. On March 24, I extended non-residential public school closures through April 10. The March 24 Directive also closed certain on-premises dining and beverage businesses while expanding and encouraging delivery, takeout, and drive-up options. On March 26, 2020, I issued a Directive providing that, to the maximum extent possible, all individuals stay at their home or place of residence unless engaging in certain essential activities or functions through April 10. This Directive also required the temporary closure of non-essential businesses, provided social distancing requirements, and limited non-essential travel. On March 30, I issued a Directive limiting evictions, foreclosures, and disconnections through April 10. On March 30, I also issued a Directive requiring a 14-day selfquarantine for individuals arriving in Montana for non-work-related travel through April 10. On April 7, I extended these Directives through April 24. I also issued a Directive providing additional guidance related to evictions and providing a rent assistance program on April 13, effective through April 24. I May 19, 2020 Page 2 have also issued other Directives that, unlike these, are effective for the duration of the state of emergency.

Montana’s response to COVID-19 has been necessary to slow the spread of new infections. These efforts have been effective. To date, our health care system has not been overwhelmed and we continue to work to increase our testing capacity. Through the collective efforts of all Montanans to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, Montana now has fewer than two dozen active cases and one of the lowest per capita rates of infection in the United States.

Accordingly, on April 22, 2020, I issued a Directive and guidelines for a phased reopening of Montana. The April 22 Directive provided guidance applicable to all phases and established the conditions for Phase One. I expanded some of the conditions for Phase One through an additional Directive on May 8, 2020.

I have developed Montana’s phased reopening plan by relying on scientific evidence and data, and in consultation with public health experts, healthcare providers, business leaders, and emergency management professionals. This phased approach is based on up-to-date data and statewide preparedness. It mitigates the risk of resurgence. It protects the most vulnerable. It can be implemented on a statewide, tribal, or county-by-county basis. And it contains the ability to adjust phases based on local or regional conditions. In consultation with public health professionals, healthcare providers, business leaders, and emergency management professionals, I have determined that the phased reopening approach described in this Directive is necessary in coping with and responding to the emergency.

This Directive is the next step in Montana’s reopening, to Phase Two. I stress, however, that individual responsibility—such as good hygiene, frequent cleaning of highly-touched surfaces, and strict adherence to social distancing—remains Montana’s best tool in the fight against new infections. This Directive is not an invitation to forget the lessons that Montana has learned in its fight against COVID19 these past months. Rather, it is a framework to apply those lessons as we move toward a new normal. In so doing, we must continue to place a special emphasis on protecting those in Montana most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. That crucial work demands a collective effort by all Montanans. By continuing to take these measures seriously, we protect our family, friends, and neighbors as Montana begins to emerge from its initial encounter with COVID-19.

Local officials should coordinate on a regional basis and continue to assess the conditions in their jurisdictions. As with prior Directives, nothing in this Directive prohibits local public health authorities from adopting more restrictive approaches based on local need.

Therefore, in accordance with the authority vested in me under the Constitution, Article VI, Sections 4 and 13, and the laws of the State of Montana, Title 10, Chapter 3 and Title 50, Chapter 1, MCA, and other applicable provisions of the Constitution and Montana law, I hereby direct the following measures be in place in the State of Montana effective immediately, except where specified.

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