According to the Cascade City-County Health Department, there are safe ways to engage in unofficial forms of public assembly like lemonade stands and garage sales.
Favorable weather conditions have led many Montanans to resume these common springtime activities. However, the fact that Governor Bullock still recommends Montanans practice sanitation and social distancing begs the question: how does the public participate in those activities safely?
CCHD health officer Trisha Gardner offered a detailed answer.
"The biggest thing is keeping that social distancing whenever possible, limiting the group sizes. For something like a lemonade stand that you come and go quite quickly, it’s quite easy to keep that social distancing...Garage sales-there’s a lot of different ways you could go about making those safer: spacing out your tables, making sure you’re cleaning in between customers...encouraging those individuals to social distance when they are there. You can even get creative and think of different ways to display the merchandise so people don’t have to pick it up or touch it unless they’re planning on buying it,” Gardner said.
Gardner added that both the event operators and participants have an equal responsibility to adhere to safety protocols, but different duties required to fulfill those tasks.
Event operators are encouraged to set an example of safety. “We do recommend that the people holding them mask up and really maintain their own kind of sanitation and hygiene practices - wash their hands frequently, all those same types of prevention methods we have in place right now,” Gardner said.
Similarly, people should abide by safety rules and practice them independently, like using sanitizer and avoiding crowded gatherings. “If you come up on one and it’s really busy, wait in your car until somebody leaves and it opens up a bit more,” Gardner said.
Although the number of people allowed to congregate at unofficial events like garage sales and lemonade stands will increase to 50 on June 1st, social distancing requirements at those events will remain in place.
“No matter whether it’s an official business or unofficial, we’re still encouraging on all fronts the social distancing and sanitation practices,” Gardner said.
Gardner also stressed that while there are safe ways to attend these gatherings, those people within the vulnerable population (people age 65+ or with underlying health issues) should take extra precautions when attending or avoid doing so at all.
“Those over the age 65 or with underlying health conditions...it’s still recommended at this point that those individuals limit their nonessential activities,” Gardner said.