Governor Steve Bullock has announced a phased reopening of activities in Montana. The governor laid out a three-phase plan and issued a detailed directive on rolling out Phase One. The new directive slightly extends his stay-at-home order from its scheduled expiration on April 24, 2020, so that it now expires on April 26 for individuals and on April 27 for most non-essential businesses, except as explained below. Schools may begin in-person teaching on May 7. The plan allows local officials to impose greater restrictions than the state, based on local conditions.
For all phases, the governor’s plan encourages employers to follow appropriate policies for social distancing, personal protective equipment, health screenings, and sanitation. Employers should prohibit anyone with COVID-19 symptoms from working and should coordinate with public health authorities if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
Phase One for Individuals: Vulnerable individuals (over 65 or with underlying serious health conditions) should continue to self-isolate. Everyone should maximize physical distance in public, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, and minimize nonessential travel.
Phase One for Employers in General: Encourage telework when feasible. Otherwise, adhere to social distancing guidelines by using alternate work schedules such as shift work and staggered scheduling. Keep common areas clean, minimize nonessential business travel, and accommodate workers who are members of a vulnerable population or who have vulnerable household members.
Phase One for Specific Categories of Employers: Phase One imposes restrictions on some businesses and allows others to operate within certain parameters. For example, “Main Street” and retail businesses may begin operating on April 27 “with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained.” Restaurants and bars may open on May 4 with reduced capacity and physical distancing. Gyms, pools, hot tubs, and non-religious places of assembly remain closed. See the three-phase plan for a complete list.
Phase Two (no date scheduled yet): All businesses can operate but should continue to encourage telework when feasible. If not feasible, businesses must adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Gatherings may expand to 50 people. Vulnerable people should continue to self-isolate. Gyms, pools, hot tubs, and non-religious places of assembly may open with physical distancing guidelines in place and restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people.
Phase Three (no date scheduled yet): Employers may resume full staffing, but should be aware of physical distancing and comply with current guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There are no limits on the size of gatherings. Vulnerable people don’t need to stay home, but should practice physical distancing and use precautionary measures.
Tips: Refer to the governor’s website for the latest information on Montana’s phased rollout of normal activities. Questions? Contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.