Governor provides "phased re-opening" plan for Montana

Posted at 12:00 PM, Apr 22, 2020

Governor Steve Bullock announced during a news conference on Wednesday a "phased re-opening" plan for Montana.

Among the highlights of the plan is that many retail businesses can become operational beginning on Monday, April 27, and restaurants, bars, casinos, and breweries can become operational beginning on Monday, May 4, in accordance with the guidelines listed below. Scroll down for links to the complete plan and key points.

Bullock gives timeline for phased reopening of Montana

Bullock noted that as a result of the actions taken, Montana has among the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation. Montana also has the lowest number of hospitalizations, per capita, in the nation.

He said: "I recognize that for over the past five weeks Montanans all across the state have gone to incredible lengths to protect our families, friends and the greater Montana community. We have made these sacrifices for health care workers. We have done so for all the other frontline workers in this crisis. We have done so for those most vulnerable to severe illness from this disease... Because just as important as it was for us to act as a community beginning five weeks ago, that still holds true to this day – and moving forward. Once we begin to reopen, we want to be able to stay open. Our personal responsibility to protect those around us – particularly those most vulnerable – remains just as important as any time during this pandemic."

The "Re-opening The Big Sky" plan is divided into three phases; here is a summary of some of the key points of the first phase:


  • SENIOR LIVING OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES must continue to prohibit visitors. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed. This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.
  • CHILD CARE FACILITIES can remain operational but should follow State and local guidelines regarding operational levels and occupancy.
  • ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITIES can consider becoming operational if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented. Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • RESTAURANTS / BARS / BREWERIES / DISTILLERIES / CASINOS can become operational on or after May 4, under strict physical distancing and reduced capacity protocols in accordance with State guidelines. All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11:30.
  • RETAIL BUSINESSES can become operational on or after Monday, April 27, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained.
  • GYMS / POOLS / HOT TUBS remain closed.
  • OUTDOOR RECREATION can become operational if sites adhere to strict physical distancing between groups and exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open.
  • PLACES OF WORSHIP can become operational on or after Sunday, April 26, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members.
  • PERSONAL CARE (SALONS, MASSAGE, BODY ART, ETC.) Operations that require close personal contact for an extended period result in exposing staff and customers to greater levels of risk. These situations require additional safety and health precautions. Stylist / artist / service-provider and customer would be a “station” that would be 6 feet away from other “stations”. • Provide for 6 feet of physical distancing between stations, this may require: • A reduction in capacity; • Increasing spacing, removing stations, or marking stations as closed; • Providing for a physical barrier between stations; • A reduction of seating in service and waiting areas; or • Systems that reduce the amount of contact time between customers and staff.
  • Other PLACES OF ASSEMBLY shall remain closed (e.g., movie and performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls).


  • ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to follow the stay home guidance. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.
  • Vulnerable Individuals: people over 65 years of age and/or those with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
  • All individuals (non-household), WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. • Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to Montana guidelines regarding quarantine.


  • Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
  • When telework is not feasible it is encouraged to ACCOMMODATE ALTERNATE WORK SCHEDULES such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact; or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS should be made for members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION or those with vulnerable household members.


  • Beginning May 7, 2020 all schools have the option to return to in-classroom teaching delivery. The State recognizes that if reopened, schools will require the district to make adjustments and create plans, policies, and procedures. If schools plan to reopen they should consider: Implementing an alternative educational delivery model that includes a mix of in-person and remote learning. Providing focused individual education, especially for at-risk students. How to reconnect and meet the educational needs of students who fall behind in a remote learning environment. The importance of maintaining the connection between students, teachers, and parents. The important role that schools play in the health of students, families, and communities. Graduation environments that can meet the social distancing requirements.

The above information is just a brief summary of key points; click the links below for more details.

As of Wednesday morning (April 22), there have been a total of 439 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, an increase of two since Tuesday. The two new cases are in Missoula County and Yellowstone County.

  • There have been 14 deaths in Montana to date. There have been six deaths in Toole County, two in Cascade County, two in Flathead County, and one each in Lincoln County, Madison County, Missoula County, and Yellowstone County.
  • There have now been 59 hospitalizations to date of COVID-19 patients in Montana; 13 of those are considered "active (current) hospitalizations."
  • There have been a total of 296 recovered patients to date. The number of recoveries by county has not been released at this point.
  • The DPHHS public health lab has completed 11,583 tests for COVID-19, including 342 tests since Tuesday's update.

Click here to see the current total of confirmed cases by county .