WHITEFISH — The City of Whitefish has announced a phased reopening plan for lodging facilities that amends the previous emergency ordinance by extending the restrictions beyond May 10. The plan is in accordance with the phased reopening of Montana announced by Gov. Steve Bullock during the COVID-19 emergency.
The amended ordinance states that during the first phase, all lodging facilities in Whitefish are prohibited from providing accommodations for reservations and walk-ins for non-essential purposes. All existing reservations for non-essential purposes during phase one must be canceled.
Essential purposes are defined as government, health care, law enforcement, domestic violence victims, personnel responding to the COVID-19 emergency, work-related travel, family members of those seeking medical treatment, and those individuals that have a medical recommendation to quarantine outside their home.
There is no set date for when the first phase will expire.
"We understand the challenges businesses face because the duration of each phase is determined by the Governor," city manager Dana Smith. "We do know that the duration of each phase is being regularly evaluated in close consultation with public health and emergency management professionals."
Once Montana enters phase two of the gradual reopening plan, all lodging facilities in Whitefish may provide accommodations for Montana residents and for out-of-state residents traveling only for essential purposes. Once the 14-day self-quarantine directive is lifted by Gov. Bullock, all lodging facilities in Whitefish may provide accommodations to any traveler.
"We realize the uncertainty of timing is a challenge for our businesses," said Smith. "Since the state phases and quarantine requirements are based on scientific evidence and data for the spread of the virus, our city council felt this was the best approach to our own phased reopening of our lodging facilities in Whitefish."
Due to the unknown duration for each step in the city plan, reservations of all types may be booked by lodging facilities in Whitefish, but cancellations must be processed in a timely manner and prior to arrival if the restrictions provided in the ordinance are still in effect. The amended emergency ordinance can be found here.
Whitefish was the first city in Montana to ban short-term lodging for non-essential purposes on April 5.