Governor Steve Bullock has joined a number of other states in issuing an order that requires individuals to stay home due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), unless engaging in certain activities deemed essential. Under Governor Bullock’s order, all businesses in Montana must close, except those that are engaged in “Essential Businesses and Operations,” which includes a variety of industries and business operations. The order was issued on March 26, 2020, and will be in effect from March 28 through April 10, 2020 (Directive Implementing Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020).
“Essential Businesses and Operations” is specifically defined in the order, and includes companies that are part of the “Essential Infrastructure,” as well as companies engaged in manufacturing, distributing, and supplying essential products and services (including forest products, agriculture, and food production). The order specifically incorporates the guidance provided in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVD-19 Response to help companies understand whether they can continue operating. Of note, the order also indicates that the definition of “Essential Infrastructure” shall be construed broadly.
Businesses that are allowed to continue operating are required, to the greatest extent possible, to implement certain social distancing and cleanliness standards, including: (1) designating six-foot distances with signage, tape, or other means to ensure proper social distancing; (2) providing hand sanitizer and sanitizing products; (3) implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers (if applicable); and (4) posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely. In addition, to the extent feasible, businesses should provide telework or other remote work opportunities for employees who can work at home.
Businesses that must close are allowed to continue operating “Minimum Basic Operations,” such as security, payroll, and other activities defined in the order.
Tips: Review Montana’s order to evaluate whether your business qualifies as an Essential Business; there are many categories that could apply to your business, particularly those in manufacturing and agriculture. If you’re allowed to continue operating, you must implement the social distancing and cleanliness standards outlined in the order. Review Vigilant’s new Social Distancing Policy to get you started. You should also evaluate if any of your employees can perform work remotely; if feasible, you should provide them with the necessary tools to do so. Review our Telecommuting Agreement for ideas on how to successfully set up your employees to work remotely, and contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney with questions.