COVID in Montana: Governor issues new guidance

Posted at 9:26 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 15:17:57-05

GREAT FALLS — Gov. Greg Gianforte on Friday issued two new directives and an executive order.

The first directive rescinds and replaces all prior directives implementing Executive Order 2-2021, which the governor issued on Jan. 13, 2021.

A news release says that consistent with Gov. Gianforte's Feb. 10 announcement, the new directive allows the statewide mask mandate to expire.

Local jurisdictions may still choose to implement their own mask requirements.

Ahead of Friday's directives, several county and municipal agencies have already announced they intend to keep some restrictions:

Gov. Gianforte reiterated that providing incentives and encouraging personal responsibility are more effective than imposing what he called "impractical, unenforceable government mandates."

On Feb. 10, Gov. Gianforte signed S.B. 65 into law, which provides a liability shield to businesses, nonprofits, and others who protect their workers, their customers, and their clients from the spread of COVID-19.

The state remains in Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan, which the governor updated on January 6 to protect the most vulnerable Montanans, including people 70 years of age and older, Montanans 16 years of age and older who have severe underlying medical conditions, and Native Americans and other persons of color who are at a heightened risk of severe COVID-19-related complications.

In keeping with Gov. Gianforte’s Jan. 13 directive which removed restrictions on hours of service and capacity for businesses, Friday's directive continues to encourage businesses to adopt industry best practices or public health guidance to protect their employees and customers.

The news release also says that Friday's directive also continues to promote the use of telehealth services, protect Montanans from eviction or foreclosure, ease licensing for healthcare professionals, and reduce regulatory burdens.

The second directive repeals the election-related directive dated Aug. 6, 2020. The governor also issued Executive Order 3-2021 which rescinds Executive Order 15-2018.

“Our Constitution makes it plain as day: the Legislature makes our laws, not the governor and not the courts,” Gov. Gianforte said. “It’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine how Montana’s elections are conducted, and it’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine whether an individual must disclose donations to a nonprofit group.”

“These issues are up to the Legislature now, which is where they should have been decided all along,” Gov. Gianforte said.