GREAT FALLS — COVID-19 restrictions are being loosened in Cascade County.
During a meeting on Wednesday, Cascade County Board of Health members voted to approve four motions.
The motions take effect at 5 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22.
The first motion was to allow businesses to operate at 75% capacity instead of 50% capacity.
Businesses will also now be able to stay open until 12:30 a.m. instead of having to close at 10 p.m., but they will have to be closed from 12:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Third, the Board of Health agreed to limit indoor event capacity at 250 people and outdoor event capacity at 500 people with an approved event plan.
This motion sparked the most debate.
Public commenters suggested allowing events to operate at 75% capacity instead of having a flat 250 or 500-person cap.
Board members were initially in favor of the idea and considered allowing event venues to apply for a variance to exceed the cap limit.
Concerns were raised, however, that the health department would be inundated with requests, creating too much work for the already very busy department.
Board members then considered rescinding the first motion and adopting a new motion that caps capacity at 75% for both businesses and events.
After some debate, several board members decided to oppose rescinding the motion and the vote to rescind, then, failed.
The members opposed said they felt the original motion should stay since it had already been approved and since it can be easily changed at a future meeting.
The fourth and final motion approved was to set the effective date of the motions at 5 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22.