As Montana’s face mask mandate expired Friday, the reaction from Yellowstone County local governments and private business has been a mixed bag.
Even though the statewide mandate expired, businesses and other establishments still have a right to require masks.
So to give you a head start, here’s a look at some of those details you need to know.
The biggest take-away is if you choose to not wear a mask, you still need to always have one on hand for places that require them.
The Board of Yellowstone County Commissioners is leaving the decision up to department heads and elected officials.
That means each county government office will come up with its own protocol.
The county commissioners do, however, strongly urge continued use of social distancing.
However, when it comes to county courtrooms, judges, personnel, and visitors must still wear a mask.
That means masks must be worn on floors 4, 5 and 6 of the Yellowstone County Courthouse.
Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath issued that order in late December 2020.
At MetraPark, spokesman Ray Massie said employees are now awaiting word from the county’s legal department about requiring masks for future events, but as of Friday morning all Metra staff will continue to mask up.
Billings City Administrator Chris Kukulski said the airport and Met Transit are federally funded so a mask mandate remains in effect.
Masks are also still required at the Billings Library.
As for city work spaces, no masks are required, but social distancing is still encouraged inside common areas.
Some employees may be asked to wear masks during meetings, but that is up to the individual group.
And as for shopping, if you head to CostCo make sure you have your mask and wear it correctly. The Costco corporate mandate remains in effect and you may not enter the business without a mask.
Across King Avenue West in Billings, things are changing up at WalMart. As of Friday, employees must continue to wear masks for their safety, but if you’re heading in to shop, it’s your choice to go with or without a mask.
At Target the current policy will not change. The corporate policy is that all employees wear masks.
If guests do not have a mask when they walk in, they are asked if they would like a free one.
Target representatives also offer up non-contact shopping options, but in the end Target does not require that you wear a mask.
As School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham has said, a mask mandate will remain in effect, at all Billings public schools.
Update: Officials at Albertsons, which has six stores in Billings, released the following statement:
"Our Albertsons stores will continue to keep the signs up at the front entrance asking customers to wear a face covering while shopping in the store for the health and safety of our associates, other customers and neighbors. We will also continuing requiring our associates to wear a face covering while working in the store," a spokesperson said.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County will continue to require masks. Here's a part of a letter from CEO Brian Dennis to parents:
"Despite Governor Gianforte’s decision to allow the current statewide mask mandate to expire on Friday, March 12, 2021, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County will continue to follow our current COVID-19 safety protocols and practices, which includes requiring every Club member, staff, volunteer, and guest to wear a face covering when they are inside our Clubhouses, Micro-Sites or vehicles.
"While I recognize there are different opinions regarding the wearing of face coverings, this decision is based on CDC recommendations and my desire to take every reasonable precaution to protect our members and our team and to keep all Club sites open to the kids.
"I appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we continue to do Whatever It Takes to keep our members safe and ensure they have access to a world-class Club experience."