Montana COVID FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions for Montana COVID

Current Reopening Phase: Phase 2

Governor has Declared a State of Emergency, Read Declaration

Directive on Implementing and Establishing Phase 2 of Reopening, Read Directive

Reopening Montana Phase 2, Read Plan

Directive on mandatory use of face coverings, Read Directive

Directive on K-12 School Mask Requirement, Read Directive

Montana COVID FAQs

A list of frequently asked questions and answers related to COVID-19.

Updated 8/7/2020


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Inquiries: 1.888.333.0461

NOTE: The Governor’s directives can be supplemented by more restrictive local measures put in to place by county authorities. To ensure you are getting the best information regarding the local situation, please reach out to the county health department or local law enforcement regarding how the order is taking effect in that community. 

For mask FAQs, please click here.


With the phased reopening, do officials worry about upticks in COVID-19 cases?

Yes. With widespread testing and testing of close-contact cases (contact tracing), we expect to see new cases. As the Governor stated in this June 11 press conference, these cases serve as a reminder that we cannot get complacent and that if unchecked, this virus can spread quickly and quietly. In Montana, local and tribal public health are working carefully to perform contact tracing to get exposed individuals into quarantine and eliminate chains of transmission to keep the virus under control.

 

Is it possible that instead of moving to Phase 3, we may move back to Phase 1 if Montana sees more cases?

The phased re-opening approach is data-dependent. The Governor’s Office is waiting to see the impact of Phase 2 before considering next steps forward.

 

When will Phase 3 start?

The phased re-opening approach is data-dependent, meaning that the data from the previous phase dictates when the next phase will be possible. The Governor’s Office is waiting to see the impact of Phase 2 before considering a date for Phase 3.

 

Won't allowing out-of-staters into Montana lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases?

Montana is slowly opening to visitors and the health and safety of our citizens and visitors is top priority. In the state, we are currently focusing on providing COVID-19 testing (Community Screenshot Testing) to tourism communities. To protect the health and safety of Montanans and travelers to our state, some services and destinations may be limited. 

 

Why do the state and county COVID-19 cases not always match up?

Local public health authorities release individuals from the “active” category and share that information with state health officials. Notification of state health officials may not occur immediately and local and state maps may be updated on different schedules. For example, some jurisdictions may update their data several times a day, others only once. The state map is updated each morning and as a result slight differences in data is reflected at any given time. This is an ongoing process and every reasonable effort is made to ensure consistency.


There are new cases in my county but the active cases number went down, what's going on?

Active cases are those that have not been released from isolation by public health authorities. When those cases they are determined to free of disease or unlikely to be able to transmit following current CDC guidelines, they will be taken off the list as an active case and be moved to "recovered" on the map tally. After a case is moved from "active" to "recovered" it will also remain on the map on "total confirmed cases."   


The information I want isn't on the map-- can I request it be added or sent to me?

The map is comprised of data that we find to be most useful for our partners and the public. We receive a sizeable number of requests for different data sets and information and are unable to fill  individual requests at this time.  

However, DPHHS has demographic information posted on their website and release weekly reports on "Interim Analysis of COVID-19 cases in Montana," which is the link located on the top of that page.Further information you are looking for may also be available on the GIS Data List.

Due to HIPPA/privacy laws and  rapidly changing information, we do not make the raw data public or offer this information in any other format.

If you have questions regarding individual county's/tribe's data and data-tracking that is not on the  DPHHS websiteGIS Data List or on the map, please reach out to that county's/tribe's health department to request further information.  

Can senior centers open during Phase 2?

The Phase Two directive recommends vulnerable individuals such as senior citizens continue to adhere to the stay-at-home guidance. If a local senior center chooses to open in Phase Two, they should consult with their local public health officials to develop a plan that ensures proper social distancing and sanitation guidelines.  An Incident response plan for cleaning and sanitizing regarding a positive COVID-19 case should be created prior to opening.


Should patrons/workers be screened before coming into the senior center?

Patrons' and workers' forehead temperatures should be taken with infrared thermometers before entering the facility and/or screen for symptoms (more than 100°F suggests possible fever). Patrons with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using the facility


Can food be served at senior centers during Phase 2?

Yes, however:

  • Designate specific dining times for patrons with underlying health conditions only, where fewer seats are available and more than 6 feet can be maintained
  • A specific cleaning plan should be implemented with employees trained in proper sanitation practices. Please consider using the guidance document: FACILITY PLAN FOR CLEANING, SANITIZING & DISINFECTING. This document can be found at https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/fcss.
  • Centers must provide for 6 feet of physical distancing between groups and tables by:
  • Only allow 6 seats per table
  • All surfaces must be cleaned between patrons, including tables and chairs
  • Drinks and food must be served to patrons at a table; no self-service buffets
  • Table items including condiments, menus, napkins, and décor should be removed from tables unless they can be adequately cleaned between patrons
  • Single use utensils are recommended when possible
  • Reusable items must be cleaned before and after each use
  • Signage should be posted with the following or substantially similar wording: “Members with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility” and “maintain 6 feet distance between people”
  • Increasing table spacing, removing tables, or marking tables as closed, or
  • Providing a physical barrier between tables


What guidelines do patrons at senior centers need to follow?

  • Testing centers are now available for voluntary testing, we recommend all employees and patrons get tested when possible 
  • Maintain 6 feet distance between other patrons and workers
  • Wear face mask when possible
  • Sanitation and hygiene procedures
  • COVID-19 symptom awareness


What guidelines do workers at senior centers need to follow?

Testing centers are now available for voluntary testing, we recommend all employees and patrons get tested when possible. Furthermore, workers should be trained to:

•Minimize contact time with patrons when possible

•Wear face mask when possible

•Wash hands when contaminated or suspect of contamination

  • Follow normal use and disposal procedures for single-use gloves
  • Stay home if ill

•Report illness symptoms to supervisor

Vulnerable Individuals/Populations: people over 65 years of age, people with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma, and people whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer or other conditions requiring such therapy. [April 22 Directive for Phase 1, page 4] 

Places of Assembly: A building (excluding dwelling units) or outdoor space, or portion thereof, in which persons may gather that require individuals to be in close proximity to each other and lack the ability to easily adapt to required social distancing and sanitation practices before each individual use.  [Phase 1 FAQs] 

***Guidelines from bars beginning Friday June 5, 2020***

Is bar seating open during phase 2?

Yes, but there is no bar seating within 6 feet of a well or taps, an area where drinks are passed to servers, ice machines, or other areas used to prepare or serve food or beverages. Patrons should maintain 6 feet of social distancing, shared/community items should be eliminated and commonly touched surfaces should be frequently cleaned/disinfected.

Is restaurant counter seating "bar seating"?

Yes, these guidelines apply to for bar seating in restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and bars

Are there specific guidelines for poker rooms?

Beginning Friday June 5, 2020 poker rooms are allowed in Phase 2 with the same goals of the bar seating with the following specifications:

1) Poker rooms must require everyone to sanitize their hands upon entering or reentering the card room

2) Limit the number of available seats to six players in order to create some spacing between them

3) Players will verbalize all bets and the dealer will physically handle all chip transactions

4) All poker staff will wear masks, poker staff will sanitize and or wash hands in between each cash transaction

5) Poker staff will sanitize tables, chairs, chips and cards with disinfectant products every day and they will use steam for the fabric on the chairs and the vinyl covering on the tables

What is the required closure time for bar seating?

The required time of closure for bar seating in restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and bars during Phase 2 is extended from 11:30PM to 12:30AM.  

Why is there an earlier closing time than 2 a.m. for bars?

The 12:30 a.m. closing time is to protect public health and lessen the spread of the virus.  The recommendation for an earlier closing time before 2 a.m. was suggested by both health officials and industry representatives when the Montana reopening plan was developed in late April.  In Phase 2, the closing time was extended from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 

What are the social distancing guidelines for bar seating?

Bars stools should be spaced 6 feet apart. If a group of 6 or less comes in and requests to be seated together, a staff member can group seat together and then re-space to 6ft once the group leaves.

Is standing at the bar allowed?

All patrons should have a place to sit; no standing and mingling is allowed at the bar or elsewhere. Individuals who are actively participating in a bar game and able to socially distance from tables of 10 or less people may stand as part of participation in the game.  Equipment for bar games should be kept behind the bar and wiped down with an EPA approved disinfectant between uses.  Equipment that cannot be kept behind the bar should be cleaned by staff between participants.

What if 6 feet cannot be maintained between patrons and servers/staff using well areas or taps?

A physical barrier or closing wells may be used to protect servers/staff but the barrier must be at least 36 inches high and offer enough protection to prevent employee exposure to droplets from anyone seated within 6 feet of either side of the serving area.

Wells taken out of use should be marked with a sign to remind staff.

Can patrons order "to-go" at a bar/order alcohol at concession stands?

There may be a designated area at the bar, away from other customers, wells, taps, prep-stations where patrons may place and receive orders. Six feet of social distancing should be maintained by all patrons of separate parties and only one customer may use this space at a time. Patrons may grab their drink or order and then return to their seats. (See above if 6ft cannot be maintained.)

All-beverage and beer licensees must:

  • Sell for off-premises consumption prior to closing time.
  • Sell alcoholic beverages in original packaging* for delivery, curbside, drive-up or take-out. This includes growlers with beer and table wine.
    • *Original packaging means the sealed container in which a manufacturer packages its product for retail sale. It includes bottles, cans, kegs, and growlers, but does not include lines or piping carrying product from a manufacturer's premises to a retailer's premises.
  • Sell alcoholic beverages in individual servings** for take-out ONLY and the buyer assumes liability of local or state regulations regarding open container laws.
    • ** Individual serving means not more than 16 ounces of beer, not more than 2 ounces of liquor, not more than 7 ounces of wine, or a proportional combination thereof (for example, 1 ounce of liquor mixed with 8 ounces of beer).

Can bars offer "shake-a-day"?

No shake-a-day unless dice and cup can be disinfected in-between patrons.

What are the phase 2 sanitary guidelines for bar areas?

Bar stools and counter space just be disinfected between patrons; no reusing drink coasters unless they can be disinfected between patrons and no refilling glasses, new glass is needed for each order; no community items included peanuts or other foods unless they can be served in individual containers.

Is Karaoke allowed?

Karaoke is not prohibited by the directive.  Karaoke is offered in many forms depending on the establishment. Individual establishments should work with their local health departments to ensure social distancing can be maintained, and that equipment can be cleaned properly between patrons.

For testing FAQs, please click here.

Are children required to return to school? Are schools required to have an online learning option?

School districts are currently developing plans for a safe return to school this fall. Because Montana is a local control state, these decisions are made at the local school district level and mandated by the school board. Both the Governor's Office and Office of Public Instruction strongly recommend local school districts have an online learning option in their reopening plan.

The Governor's Office and Office of Public Instruction both published school re-opening guidance with this recommendation. OPI's"Reopening Montana Schools Guidance" can be found here. The "Governor's Plan for Reopening Safe and Healthy Schools for Montana" can be found here.

Can school districts provide remote learning to out-of-district students?

Yes, the July 31 directive waives current residency requirements to allow school districts to provide educational services at an offsite instructional setting, including the provision of services through electronic means, to any pupil who (a) meets the residency requirements for that district as provided in § 1-1-215, MCA; (b) resides in the same county as the district; or (c) resides in a school district immediately adjacent to the district.

Are schools going to have money for all the necessary PPE & supplies needed to open in the pandemic? Where is the money coming from?

Schools have been awarded $41 million through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, as well as $75 million through the Governor’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. This funding should help schools purchase PPE. Additionally, Governor Bullock asked Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) to secure bulk PPE for schools, in addition to the PPE they should be purchasing for their own safety efforts.

How do I sign up for home schooling?

For information on homeschooling, please contact your county superintendent.

The Office of Public Instruction has more information on homeschooling here.

What does close contact mean?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 for longer than 15 minutes during the case’s infectious period. Other examples of what might make them be a close contact include: 

  • Direct physical contact with the person 
  • Contact with a person’s respiratory secretions (such as coughing in someone’s face or sharing drinking glasses) 
  • Staying overnight at a household with someone who is infectious, and no precautions were taken to isolate the infectious person. 

PLEASE NOTE: This definition is for informational purposes only and should not be used to determine whether an individual is a close contact or not. If you have questions on whether you are considered a close contact to someone with COVID-19, please consult your primary care physician or local/tribal health department.

If I wear a mask, then can I be around COVID-19 positive individual without become a "close contact"?

While research indicates cloth face coverings may help those who are infected from spreading the infection, there is less information regarding whether cloth face coverings offer any protection for a contact exposed to a symptomatic or asymptomatic patient. Therefore, the determination of close contact should be made irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a cloth face covering. Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, it cannot be certain whether respiratory PPE worn during contact with an individual with COVID-19 infection protected them from exposure. Therefore, as a conservative approach, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE, which is recommended for health care personnel and other trained users, or a cloth face covering recommended for the general public. For more information, please see the CDC's Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure.

What do I need to do if I’m a close contact?

  • Anyone who has been deemed a close contact by a medical provider or local/tribal health department needs to be quarantined. 
  • Anyone who has been deemed a close contact by a medical provider or local/tribal health department should be tested for COVID-19 if local resources to do so are available. This doesn’t allow them to stop their quarantine, but it does identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people who need further assessment. 
  • It is important for them to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, even after a negative test. If they become symptomatic, they will need to be tested again. 
  • Work with the local health department on when they can be released from quarantine and return to work. 

How do I quarantine? 

Quarantine procedures should be set into place through your local/tribal health department. Please call your local/tribal health department to discuss quarantine measures. Measures may include: 

  • Stay home and avoid travel unless travel becomes necessary. 
  • Most people cannot work during their quarantine period unless they have a working quarantine agreement with their local health department. 
  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene. 
  • See if someone can drop off essentials to you, or use home delivery services, when possible. 
  • Postpone all non-essential medical appointments until quarantine is over, or find an alternate way to attend, such as using virtual visit with your provider. 
  • Do not use public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. 
  • Wear a face covering when you have to be around others. 

How do I self-monitor?

  • Measure your temperature twice a day (once in morning, once at night), and record them. 
  • Watch for cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, fever, loss of taste or smell, or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19. 
  • If you develop symptoms of concern, contact your primary care provider, and notify the local health department. Guidance will be given on how to access care safely. 
  • If you need emergency medical attention, call 911 and notify them that you have been under monitoring for COVID-19. 

When do I need to get emergency care?

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately: 

  • Trouble breathing 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
  • New confusion 
  • Inability to wake or stay awake 
  • Bluish lips or face 

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility:  

  • Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19. 
  • Call ahead. Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine. 
  • If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients. 

What steps do I need to take as an employer if I have an employee test positive for COVID-19?

If you have questions about close contacts to the employee and if anyone else in your business needs to isolate, please contact your local health department.

The CDC advises to close off areas used by the person who is sick (companies do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off affected areas) and wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect (if 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible).

Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use. Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection. If more than 7 days pass since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. 

Other questions

For all other questions, please contact your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care physician, please contact your local/tribal health department.  

More information can be found here.

There will be no multi-team events (triangular, invitational tournaments, etc.) in the sports of football, soccer and volleyball. The status of allowing multi-teams events in relation to the current phase and restrictions in place later in the season will be reevaluated accordingly.

For more information on football, click here.

For more information on soccer, click here.

For more information on volleyball, click  here.

Golf dual meets are recommended and encouraged. Golf can have multiple team events (invitational meets with 3 or more schools present) meeting the following criteria: 1) no practice round or use of practice facilities, 2) shotgun starts are required with a maximum of 90 players on an 18-hole course and 45 players on a 9-hole course during multi-team events (one 5-some starting per hole), 4) the point of entry to the course is different to access their starting holes, and; 5) teams will play together (grouping by school), there will be no mixing of players by score. They cannot gather at the clubhouse before or after a meet. After the meet, teams must exit to their bus immediately and team and individual scores will be shared with each team.

More information can be found here.

Cross Country dual meets are recommended and encouraged. Cross Country can have multiple teams participate if the following restrictions are followed: 1) no more than 200 participants (or by the current Governor’s phase), 2) teams must remain in their own team staging area, 3) no more than 25 on the start line, 4) the next runners up will be placed in a corral before they start, 5) all runners must wear masks in the team staging area, corral and until they are called by the starter to the starting line, 6) once the race is completed individuals must immediately exit the finish line area and return to their team bus. There can be no gathering of teams after each race.

More information can be found here

Guidance for officials can be founhere.

What are the guidelines for high school sports this fall?

On July 27, Montana High School Association released guidance for the return to fall activities. Below are a few highlights that apply to all sports, however, it is recommended you review the entirety of their guidance:

  • Workouts/practices should be conducted in “pods” / “bubbles” of participants with same players working out together to limit overall exposure.
  • Before, during and after the contest, players, coaches, and administration should wash and sanitize their hands as often as possible.
  • No out of state competition or teams traveling from out of state for competition, unless it is in a dual format and approved by the MHSA Executive Director.
  • Always maintain social distancing of 6 feet while on the field/court of play when possible. 
  • Everyone must have their own beverage container that is not shared.  Safe handling practices should be adhered during hydration, which includes refilling, retrieval and identification of water source.
  • Time-outs (if applicable) may be extended to a maximum of two minutes in length for safe hydration practices.  Social distancing requirements must always be followed.
  • Cloth facial coverings are allowed for players, coaches and officials.   Facial coverings must be a single solid color and unadorned.  Face Coverings must be worn per the Governor’s directive.
  • Gloves are permissible for all players, coaches and officials.
  • The ball should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the contest / event as recommended by the ball manufacturer.
  • Administrators must limit the number of non-essential personnel who are on the field/player surface area throughout the contest.
  • Attendance at MHSA events is dependent on host site and local health department guidelines and restrictions.
  • A family’s role in maintaining safety guidelines for themselves and others is very important.  Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home).  Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.

Do players need to wear face coverings? What about referees?

Face coverings must be worn per the Governor’s directive. Cloth face coverings are permissible and must be a single solid color and unadorned.

Who enforces these guidelines?

Schools must follow the Governor’s Phase Directives, State and Local Health Department Directives regarding fan attendance (limits, social distancing, enforce the mask requirement, facility cleaning, sanitizing, etc.), travel requirements (bus maximum numbers and mask wearing, etc,) and MHSA sport specific requirements.

Officials are not responsible for monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, hand washing, symptoms of illnesses and other such issues. This monitoring remains with the coaching staff and school personnel.

Is the All State Band, Choir and Orchestra Music Festival cancelled?

The All State Band, Choir and Orchestra Music Festival on October 14-16 has been cancelled.  The MHSA Executive Board cancelled the festival due to concerns from the MMEA, MHSA limitations for fall sports and activities, and concerns of high-risk transmissions through the playing of instruments and singing.  The Festival will not be rescheduled during the 2020-2021 school year.

Will fans be able to attend sports events?

The attendance of fans at regular season contests will be determined by the school in consultation with their local health department authority. Schools may have to submit a plan for fan attendance to their local health department for approval.  Local health department requirements will differ, and schools need to consult their local health authority and be ready to submit a plan for approval if required.

Schools/districts/classifications will have to determine number of tickets they will provide to the visiting team per allowed maximum attendance.  Schools could print “at your own risk” statement on every ticket sold for contests. 

Can public swimming pools open?

Yes, all public swimming pools (pools, spas, hot springs, water parks, competition pools, etc.) can open but must follow the standards for healthy behaviors and a healthy environment (see information on these practices under the question "what are the healthy behaviors and healthy environment guidelines pools must follow?")

 

Do people have to social distance in pools and are their occupancy guidelines?

Yes, occupancy cannot exceed 75 percent capacity of normal bather load. Patrons must observe social distancing requirements (6 foot spacing between unassociated patrons (i.e. not family members) and 6 foot spacing between groups of no more than 50).

The facility must reduce their total occupancy if they are unable to observe these social distancing requirements.

 

Do I need an employee to monitor and control the occupancy of my public swimming pool?

Yes. COVID-19 guidance requires the facility to monitor the use of the pool to maintain social distancing and keep the bather load at 75% or less. The facility should develop a plan that works best for their business operations. Examples of plans that facilities have implemented include:

  1. Having front desk personnel in a position to easily see and control access to the pool
  2. Monitoring facilities remotely (for facilities with camera systems)
  3. Locking the pool room door with a sign indicating that all pool users must check in at the front desk to access the pool.

There are other options that may meet the intent of the guideline and specific questions about what may work for your facility can be directed to your local health jurisdiction.

 

Can youth swim classes resume?

Yes, as long as the group size is no larger than 50 swimmers and social distancing is maintained between groups, during classes, drop off, and pickup.

 

What are the healthy behavior, environment and operation guidelines pools must follow?

Healthy Behaviors
  • Encourage all staff and patrons to wash their hands often and to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Encourage the use of cloth face coverings when not able to practice social distancing.
    • Do not wear cloth face coverings when in the water or humid environments as it can make breathing difficult!
  • Educate staff and patrons on the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Post signs with the following, or substantially similar, language at all entrances to the facility.
    • “People with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility.”
    • “Observe social distancing in this facility. No loitering in common areas.”
  • Ensure adequate amounts of soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch trash cans are available.

 

Healthy Environment
  • Develop procedures to identify and separate used furniture and equipment from clean. Examples include:
    • Labeled bins for used pools toys and floats that need to be disinfected before use by another person.
    • Monitor deck furniture to clean between users.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of all disinfectants.
  • Ensure indoor ventilation systems are operating efficiently and providing adequate air exchange.
  • Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible.
  • Survey facility water systems to ensure they are safe.  Long shut downs could require taking steps to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Use physical barriers or visible cues to provide areas that facilitate a 6 foot separation between patrons. Examples include:
    • Lane markers, or floating lane lines to separate pool areas
    • Separation of deck tables and lounge chairs
    • Tape on the deck and sidewalks to designate waiting areas, or staging zones.
    • Mark stairs and walkways with directional arrows for incoming and outgoing traffic
  • Monitor use of shared community spaces like locker rooms to avoid crowding and facilitate separation
  • Discourage the sharing of items such as food, equipment and toys that cannot easily be disinfected between users.

 

Healthy Operations
  • Front desk/gate attendant must track occupancy, incoming and outgoing to ensure maximum occupancy does not exceed 75 percent capacity of normal bather load;
  • Patrons must observe social distancing requirements.
    • 6 foot spacing between unassociated patrons (i.e. not family members);
    • 6 foot spacing between groups of no more than 50.
  • The facility must reduce their total occupancy if they are unable to observe these social distancing requirements.
  • Educate staff on the symptoms of COVID-19 and advise them to stay home when ill.
  • Conduct health assessments of all staff as they come on shift.
  • Lifeguards that are actively lifeguarding must not be expected to monitor handwashing, use of cloth face coverings, or social distancing of others. 
  • Follow certification agency recommendations for lifeguard rescues, and first aid during the pandemic.
  • Youth swim classes
    • Group size no larger than 50 swimmers;
    • Social distancing facilitated between groups, during classes, drop off, and pickup.

 

Can lap swimmers pass closer than 6 feet from each other in neighboring lanes?  

Yes, swimmers can pass closer than 6 feet from each other in neighboring lanes.

 

I'm unsure if my facility is covered in the pool guidance--what guidance should I follow?

The guidance for pools is in the updated Appendix B of the Governor's directive. The guidance applied to all facilities licensed as a pool or spa in the state.

 

Where can I find more information?

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/aquatic-venues.html

What are the social distancing requirements at camps?

It is recommended that Camps keep individuals in groups of 10. The same 10 people should be with each other every day. Children within the group of 10 do not need to maintain social distance from each other. They can have closer contact for activities such as sports. However, groups of 10 should remain socially distanced from other groups of 10.


Is there a capacity cap for camps?

Camps may exceed a max of 50 people so long as they coordinate with their local health jurisdiction to ensure appropriate social distancing. That number includes campers and the employees that have contact with those campers, such as counselors. It does not include employees that do not interact with campers, such as maintenance.


What do I need to do before opening a camp?

Camps need to contact their County Health Department to develop a plan for reporting, testing (if someone develops symptoms), and contact tracing. Each camp must develop a cleaning and sanitizing protocol


What information should we provide to campers/employees about COVID-19 prior to coming to camp?

  • Campers and employees should be reminded not to attend if:
  • Campers and employees should receive a list of COVID-19 symptoms along with instructions to report any symptoms as soon as they appear. (Instructions should include information on who they need to report to at the camp.)
    • they have tested positive for COVID
    • if they are showing any symptoms
    • if they have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive
    • have been told to quarantine for any reason
    • or are awaiting test results.


What protocols need to be followed by campers/employees once they arrive at camp?

  • Both employees and campers should complete a health questionnaire and have a temperature check.
    • Anyone with a temp greater than 100.0 must be sent home.
    • Overnight Camps do not have to fill out a questionnaire each day. However, any campers that attend functions outside of camp (such as going to a public swimming pool) should complete a new questionnaire and temperature check.
    • Day Camps should fill out a new health questionnaire and perform a temperature check at the beginning of camp each day.


What happens if a camper/staffer contracts COVID-19?

Anyone who in contact with that camper/staff would need to be quarantined immediately pending the results of the test. Camps should prepare for both short-term or extended closures in the case of a positive COVID case.

I am getting married and have more than 50 people invited to my wedding. Do I need to reduce the number/cancel it? 

As of June 1, groups greater than 50 are not advised. However, if you are planning an event with more than 50 people you should consult with your local public health office on a plan to implement adequate social distancing. Event cutoff threshold is at the discretion of community leadership based on current circumstances in that community (see Phase 2 Directive, page 4) 


Do events that take place using bar/restaurant outdoor facilities such as patios, volleyball courts, etc. but not within the bar/restaurant count against the capacity limit of the venues?

Yes. Patrons using outdoor facilities will count against the 75% capacity limits of the venue during Phase 2. Venues that wish to expand their outdoor capacity for special events such as tournaments, celebrations and other functions should consult with their local health office to work out a plan for how to maintain social distancing and enhanced cleaning procedures.


Are rodeos and fairs cancelled?

At this time, rodeos and fairs must follow the same guidance as all large gatherings. However, local authorities may impose more restrictive measures than the directive.


What is the guidance for dance floors?

Events over 50 people should consult with their local health department to make a plan to promote social distancing. In all group settings, individuals should follow the best practices available to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer, and staying six feet apart when possible.  This answer does not apply to bars where all patrons should have a place to sit and no standing and mingling is allowed at the bar or elsewhere.

I have questions regarding COVID-19 testing in nursing homes/assisted living facilities

For questions regarding testing of Residents and Staff of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities, click here.

 

Are visitations allowed in senior and assisted living facilities?

Yes. Montanans requiring care in senior and assisted living facilities have access to limited visitation, subject to stringent safety and health measures. As stated in the Governor's Directive from July 13:

Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities may allow visitors provided they comply with the following conditions and first give notice of the following safeguards to residents and family members:

  • Visitation should be conducted in accordance with the strict screening, physical distancing, sanitation, hygiene, and other infection control protocols set forth in the CMS and CDC guidanceapplicable to nursing homes.
  • Before permitting visitation, facilities should review the applicable CDC and CMS guidance and ensure that they are able to follow the recommendations contained therein.

For more information, the CMS Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes can be found here.

Assisted living facilities may allow visitors provided they comply with the following conditions and first give notice of the following safeguards to residents and family members:

  • Visitation must be conducted in accordance with the strict screening, physical distancing, sanitation, hygiene, and other infection control protocols set forth in the Department’s July 13, 2020 Notice of Adoption of Temporary Emergency Rules.
  • Before resuming visitation, all facilities must have conducted—at a minimum—a single baseline COVID-19 test of all residents and staff (including volunteers and vendors who are in the facility on a weekly basis), and the facilities must have implemented an internal plan for weekly re-testing of all staff.

NOTE: The Governor’s directives can be supplemented by more restrictive local measures put in to place by county authorities. To ensure you are getting the best information regarding the local situation, please reach out to the county health department or local law enforcement regarding how the order is taking effect in that community.

If I travel outside of Montana for any reason, do I need to quarantine upon return to Montana? (residents) 

No. As of June 1, the provisions of the March 30 Directive requiring quarantine for nonwork-related arrivals in Montana is no longer in effect (see Phase 2 Directive, page 5). 

 

If I want to vacation or otherwise travel into Montana, am I subject to a quarantine period or other restrictions? (non-residents) 

No. As of June 1, the provisions of the March 30 Directive requiring quarantine for nonwork-related arrivals in Montana is no longer in effect (see Phase 2 Directive, page 5). 

 

Can visitor centers reopen? 
Visitor centers can open in Phase 2, with reduced capacity of 75%, strict adherence to physical distancing guidance and following CDC sanitation protocols .


What are the guidelines for visiting/travelling to Montana?

The health and safety of our citizens and visitors is our top priority. While visiting our spectacular state please be prepared for some new protocols and safety precautions. 

There is no longer a 14-day travel-related quarantine in place. Governor Steve Bullock is asking visitors to do their part prevent the spread of COVID-19 which means taking the same social distancing and sanitation precautions as Montanans.

Before travelers hit the road, they should, “Know before you go.”

  • Know the local public health guidelines before arriving to their destination
  • Understand some services and destinations may be limited
  • Stay home if they’re sick

When travelers are on the road, they should:

  • Wear a mask – face coverings are required in certain indoor spaces and for certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or more active case of COVID-19
  • Maintain social distance (at least 6 feet apart)
  • Wash their hands and use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching their face
  • Cover coughs and sneezes

For more information go to VISITMT.COM.


Are there road closures or park closures in Montana?


The June 1 reopening of Montana’s tourism amenities and services will be gradual. It’s important to understand what is open and closed before arriving in the state. Click here for detailed information on Glacier National Park.

Visitors to Montana should be aware travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may vary on the seven Indian reservations in Montana. As tribal governments continue to assess public health risks, travel restrictions may change at any time depending on current conditions. Click here for detailed information on Indian Country. 


Are there resources for local businesses to help educate residents and visitors on safe travel best practices?

Montana Aware is a statewide effort designed to help Montana’s tourism partners and local businesses slow the spread of COVID-19 by promoting safety measures for those traveling in the state.

As part of this initiative, the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development has developed a toolkit of resources to help you educate residents and visitors on safe travel best practices.

The toolkit can be found here

Are measures still in place to limit foreclosures, evictions, and disconnections from service? 

No, unless you are a member of a vulnerable population, who has suffered a significant 
financial hardship as a result of the outbreak AND remain sheltered at home. In this case, the protections of the March 30 and April 13 Directives continue and will expire 30 days after the individual ceases to shelter at home or at the end of the emergency, whichever is sooner. 

 

How do I prove I am a member of a vulnerable population to prevent foreclosure, eviction or disconnection? 
An individual who seeks the protection of these provisions to prevent a foreclosure, eviction, or 
disconnection after June 1 must make a basic showing to their bank, landlord, or utility that they: 


(1) are sheltering in place under this order,  and 

(2) are a member of a vulnerable population, and 

(3) have been financially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.   

 

What rules do I have to follow to evict my tenant if they are a member of a vulnerable population? 

Before moving forward with an eviction, foreclosure, or disconnection against an individual who 
is a member of a vulnerable population, the entity initiating the eviction, foreclosure, or 
disconnection must provide adequate notice of the opportunity to seek the protection of this 
Directive by making the showing described above.   

 

can’t pay my rent/mortgage. Is there any help for this? 

The rent and mortgage assistance program established in the April 13 Directive remains in effect for the duration of the emergency. The program will provide rent, security deposit, mortgage payment, and/ or hazard insurance assistance as-needed for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss because of COVID-19.  

 

How can I apply for rental assistance? 

Interested individuals may apply at https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief

 

Where can I get more information? 

Phase 2 Directive, page 3. 


Can I increase rent for my tenants/can my landlord increase rent during the COVID-19 state of emergency?

Yes, unless the tenant is a member of a vulnerable population, who has suffered a significant  financial hardship as a result of the outbreak AND remain sheltered at home. If that is the case, the rent protections of the March 30 and April 13 Directives continue for individuals who are sheltering in place, vulnerable, and have suffered a financial hardship. All three criteria must be present to obtain protection from a rent increase. The protection from increases for these individuals does not apply to previously agreed increases or reasonable increases reflecting the size of the unit, number of tenants or guests, or services provided by the landlord. For more details on the scope of these protections, please consult the March 30 and April 13 Directives.

Interested individuals may apply for rental assistance at https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief

I am in the high-risk / vulnerable category. Do I have to return to work?

Vulnerable individuals should continue to adhere to the stay-at-home guidance. For more information see page 4 of thePhase 2 Directive.

Can an employer require their employee quarantine for two weeks before returning to work after an out of state trip?

If the employee has COVID-19 symptoms, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated they can be kept away from the office under a direct threat analysis.

If the employee is asymptomatic (showing no symptoms of COVID-19) , an employer cannot mandate an employee's actions beyond the workplace. However, an employer can request an employee not come into work for 14 days.

Does my employer have to pay me while I am quarantined?

An employee may be entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Emergency Family & Medical Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. You can find more information here and here. In addition, an employee may be eligible for unemployment insurance during quarantine. Unemployment insurance benefits vary depending on an individual’s circumstance. Reference our Unemployment Insurance Division webpage for further information regarding unemployment insurance in a COVID-19 related layoff.

Can I require my employees to be tested for COVID-19?

The ADA requires that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Applying this standard to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others. Therefore an employer may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus.

Can I use antibody testing as a method of determining whether an employee can return to work?

In light of recent CDC guidelines on testing for COVID-19, the use of antibody testing as a method of determining whether an employee can return to work could be a violation of state and federal discrimination laws that control an employer’s ability to conduct medical examinations.

Where can I find more information regarding the work environment and COVID-19?

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) FAQ page , may be useful in answering your employment related questions. It is updated regularly.

Where can I find information about the relief grants? 

For information regarding the various grant programs, including qualifications and uses, visit https://covidrelief.mt.gov.   

How do I apply for the relief grants? 

To apply for any of the relief grants, visit https://covidrelief.mt.gov, and click the “Click Here to Apply” button toward the middle of the page. 

I applied for a relief grant, but haven’t heard anything back. What should I do? 

There has been an overwhelming response to the grant programs and staff are working around the clock trying to review and evaluate those applications. If you are concerned, you can send an email inquiry to reliefapps.covid@mt.gov, and someone will get in touch with you.  

  • Link to Governor’s Phase 2 Directive
  • State Business Inquiry Hotline: 1-800-755-6672
  • State General COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-333-0461
  • Tourism Informational Hotline: 1-800-847-4868
  • Emergency Housing Assistance Program: COVID19HousingAssist@mt.gov
    • Phone: 406.841.2840, TDD: 406.841.2702, Toll Free: 800.761.6264

 

My questions weren't answered by the FAQ or the above information, what now?

Please call us at 1-888-333-0461 or email us at COVID19info@mt.gov


I don't have a question but I would like to voice my concerns/comments about COVID-19 related issues to the Governor's Office Where do I send my comments?

For information on where to send comments/concerns for the Governor’s Office click here