HELENA — Lewis and Clark County will lift most COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, March 12, with only face mask requirements remaining.
The removal of the restrictions follows the triggering criteria score for the Emergency Rules and Regulations falling below the threshold of 18 this week. The calculated score as of Thursday, March 11, was 13.5.
Bars, restaurants, gyms and casinos are able to operate at full capacity with no limit on hours of operation.
Individual businesses are able to enforce their own COVID restrictions should they wish. Several businesses MTN spoke with this week said they’d likely not be reopening at full capacity until their staff had the vaccine available to them.
Events of any size will also no longer require an approved plan from Lewis and Clark County Public Health (LCPH). However, LCPH asks that organizers still be mindful that COVID is very much still present in the county and state. Event organizers are urged to still practice caution and avoid creating situations that could lead to super spreader events.
The face mask mandate will continue during the pandemic until the end of the emergency declaration or the Emergency Rules and Regulations are repealed by the City-County Board of Health.
All individuals over the age of 5 will continue to be required to wear face masks in any indoor spaces open to the public and some outdoor public spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Much of the reasoning for the county keeping the mask mandate is that the majority of the population has yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, including many that are considered vulnerable. Montana has also recently reported the U.K. COVID-19 variant in the state’s borders, which has been found to be more contagious than the strain Montana has been seeing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recently announced their guidelines for individuals that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
CDC guidelines state anyone who is two weeks past receiving their final COVID-19 vaccine dose can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They’re also able to visit with unvaccinated people from a single household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing if that household is at low risk for severe COVID complications.
Fully vaccinated individuals can refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they’re asymptomatic.
The guidelines state that vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask while in public, maintain physical distance when possible, avoid unnecessary travel and get tested if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.