Montana stay at home directive explained by Missoula officials

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:40:36-04

MISSOULA — Governor Steve Bullock's order to stay home has some people asking what exactly does that mean.

Missoula City-County Health Department officials say that while the stay at home order might seem a little premature, states like New York are a great precautionary tale to giving the order a little too late.

"A lot of people have seen the news and you see what's happening in New York City. They did not implement a shelter in place order early enough in their disease outbreak so that is why it got such a big hold and that's why their hospitals are completely overwhelmed.," said Missoula's Incident Commander Cindy Farr, "so what we are trying to do with this order is going to help slow the spread of the disease by keeping people away from each other."

The rules are simple -- stay at home except for essential activities like for health and safety and gathering necessaries supplies like groceries or prescriptions. Even if doing so, health officials suggest limiting contact with others as much as possible

"Anytime that you can use a drive through to pick up your medication or a lot of our grocery stores do curbside delivery so if you can order online or call in and place your order for your groceries that's also going to limit your exposure risk so we highly encourage people to utilize those kind of services as well," said Farr.

People will be able to take part in outdoor activities, but must keep a safe distance from others. "It's really super important in order for us to curb the spread of this virus to try to remain at least six feet apart from other people that are not a part of your immediate household," said Farr.

Heath officials say they didn't know that Gov. Bullock was going to give the stay at home order Thursday so they are now conferring with the Missoula County Attorney's Office to figure out how they can enforce those rules.

Meanwhile, the Missoula Police Department sent out a news release Friday afternoon explaining how the order will be enforced.

Officers will continue to patrol, but will not be stopping people on the street to determine their business, or be the “social distance police.”

"It's their focus to assist and educate our citizens on the directives, and provide assistance where possible for our citizens in relation to COVID-19 issues," Missoula Police Department spokesman Sgt. Travis Welsh said.