Whitefish emergency mask ordinance nullified with the signing of House Bill 257

Downtown Whitefish
Posted at 4:36 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 10:21:33-04

WHITEFISH — Whitefish City Manager Dana Smith said the city’s emergency mask ordinance is no longer in place after Gov. Greg Gianforte signed House Bill 257 on May 7.

“What House Bill 257 did was basically removed the ability for a government entity such as the city to regulate businesses to make them require masks and therefore putting them in a position of regulating that requirement,” said Smith.

Smith said Whitefish businesses still have the right to require face coverings if they wish.

“We will see some businesses continue to require masks and I think we just ask that people remain respectful throughout the pandemic," Smith told MTN News. "We’ve made it through probably one of the most difficult years together through this pandemic, and as we move out of it and hopefully get back into more of a normal way of life, that we’re kind to one another and respectful of those businesses that do choose to keep the masks requirements in place.”

Smith said the Whitefish City Council strongly oppose the signing of House Bill 257, saying it could lead to significant public health concerns down the road.

“If we have another pandemic come forward in say 50 years and this bill is not changed, we won’t be able to put in a masks ordinance of any type,” said Smith.

Smith said the city will have posters and signage available for businesses looking to enforce the use of face coverings.

She added the city still recommends that residents and businesses follow up-to-date US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention face-covering guidelines.