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Missoula businesses prepare for tighter COVID-19 restrictions

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Posted at 3:58 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 13:28:52-04

MISSOULA — New COVID-19 restrictions will go into effect in Missoula County at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

MTN News has reached out to businesses as they prepare to implement these new restrictions.

Big Sky Casino manager Dre Gilman says after the first shutdown, it took a while to get their regular customers back.

“We do have a nice little crowd, that usually come in in the evening time,” Gilman said, adding that they could lose some business when the new restrictions take effect.

“With other customers who have nighttime jobs in the industry and stuff, unfortunately, we probably won’t see some of them, with closing at 10,” Gilman told MTN News.

But there has been some confusion over the new rules. Click here to read the full public health order.

Missoula Health Officer Ellen Leahy says the health department is putting together a frequently asked questions list.

"The intent is that the alcohol service and the drinking from the service is done at 10. Foodservice can continue. In fact, casino gambling can continue,” Leahy explained.

Gilman says Big Sky Casino still plans to close at 10, to make things easier.

The health department order also includes a voluntary stay at home order, which owner Jennifer Heggen says they’re already seeing at Cranky Sam. "It's been trying for sure."

Opening two weeks after the state entered into phase 1, the pub is used to restrictions.

"We do need to slow it down. We need to make sure we don't get overwhelmed as a community with cases,” Heggen said.

She noted that operating under COVID-19 is all they know, but looks forward to a day where business can run at a higher capacity.

"The weight of that on people, as a group, is heavy. I can't wait to hopefully see that get relieved a little bit."

Other bar and restaurant owners MTN News talked with say while they’re not happy about the new rules they will comply.