HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte says he will let Montana’s statewide mask mandate expire as of Friday.
He made the announcement Wednesday, at a bill-signing ceremony for Senate Bill 65. Gianforte had previously identified the bill as a necessary first step before he’d consider lifting the mandate.
SB 65 limits when businesses, health care providers and other organizations can be sued over a potential exposure to COVID-19. It also allows those groups to claim a defense if they took “reasonable measures” based on public health guidance about COVID.
Gianforte said he wanted to wait to lift the mask mandate until more vulnerable Montanans had received a vaccine, and they now have. He also pointed to the continued drop in active COVID cases statewide.
Gianforte said he will release a new directive on Friday morning, to implement the change. He said local jurisdictions may choose to continue their own mask mandates.
“As I’ve said, we will continue to provide incentives to protect the health and safety of Montanans, and we will emphasize personal responsibility over mandates,” he said.