Blackfeet Reservation stay-at-home order extended

Posted at 11:02 AM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 13:02:31-04

Most residents of the Blackfeet Reservation seem to be complying with the reservation’s stay-at-home order.

The original two-week stay-at-home order was extended this week to October 25; residents could be fined if they don’t follow the order.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 299 active cases (36 new Wednesday); 24 hospitalizations; 757 cases since March 15; 452 recovered since March 15; seven deaths due to COVID-19.

James McNeely, public information officer for the Blackfeet Nation, told MTN News the goal of the shutdown is to reduce the number of non-essential gatherings, which have contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases over the past several weeks.

McNeely said while the order is working well, it hasn’t been easy for everyone to adjust to: "Our people are always out spending time with family. We're very big on our extended families, so this has been really difficult for us to learn how to switch over to staying home.”

As of Wednesday, Tribal leaders were working on a phased reopening plan that could be released soon.

Here is the full text of the order:

1. BLACKFEET TRIBAL OFFICES CLOSURE. The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council hereby closes all tribal programs as directed under the attached List and memos issued by the Blackfeet Personnel Department. (Amended to remain closed until October 25, 2020 per Resolution 08-2021 Tribal Offices Only)

2. STAY AT HOME ORDER FOR RESIDENTS OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION. All persons are ordered to Stay Home. Persons found to be engaged in the following illegal activities shall be fined a minimum of $500.00 per occurrence: House Parties, Loitering, Soliciting, or engaged in unapproved gatherings. Employment travel to and from the Reservation is exempt from this order for purposes of employment. The Blackfeet Revenue Department shall issue tags for such travel.

3. APPROVED ACTIVITIES. All residents on the Blackfeet Reservation are required to Stay at Home unless engaged in essential activities as follows:—obtain medical services;—obtain food or medicine;—to engage in spiritual, mental, physical and emotional well-being;—only residents of the Blackfeet Reservation are permitted to engage in outdoor activities with members from within the same household or established cohorts as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Cohort” is defined as: smaller groups formed out of a larger organization of persons for the purpose of engaging in legal activity for the same period of time, with the goal of reducing risk of infection from the Coronavirus; and, in the event one cohort is exposed to the virus, remainder cohort groups can continue to participate in the activity; and—Residents are encouraged to engage in walks, hiking, fishing, etc. Such activity should not amount to large groups or extended family groups where risk of infection increases.

4. SOCIAL DISTANCING ORDER. All persons are mandated to distance at six (6) feet from each other while wearing a mask, with the exception of those persons who are members of the same household. “Household” is defined as those members of a household who were living in the same dwelling unit during the past fourteen (14) days. Persons knowingly in violation of this Order shall be fined $500.00 per occurrence.

5. PROHIBITION ON INDOOR GATHERINGS. Indoor gatherings shall be limited to household members or approved cohorts and businesses under the current business regulation order. Spiritual gatherings engaged in closed contact between persons shall be limited to virtual or remote attendance. Persons knowingly in violation of this Order shall result in a $500 fine per occurrence.

6. MASKS REQUIRED IN ALL AREAS OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION. All persons on the Blackfeet Reservation are required to wear masks at all times while in public (where social distancing cannot be maintained), with the exception for children under two (2) years of age. Masks are available through the Blackfeet Tribal Office Main Lobby. Persons not wearing a mask after warning shall be fined $500.00.

7. CURFEW AMENDMENT FROM 9 PM to 6 AM. Curfew shall be from 9 PM to 6 AM each day. Violations of Curfew shall result in a minimum of $500.00 Fine per occurrence.

8. COURT ENFORCEMENT FOR ISOLATION/QUARANTINE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS. Amendment #3 to Ordinance #121 requires enforcement of all public health isolation/quarantine orders by the Blackfeet Tribal Court. Persons not following the public health orders will be subject to further legal action requiring violators to be legally detained and face further criminal action not to exceed 3 years in jail and/or $5,000.00 fine per occurrence.

9. WEEKLY BRIEFING TO THE PUBLIC. The Blackfeet Incident Command shall issue a daily briefing to the public on current COVID-19 issues.

10. EXPIRATION OF THIS ORDER. Expires on October 25th to which the Blackfeet Tribe will implement its Phased Plan by October 20th.