Gov. Steve Bullock ordered Wednesday that face masks be worn in indoor spaces in all counties in Montana with at least four active COVID-19 cases.
Face masks will also be required for anyone attending outdoor gatherings with 50 or more people, Bullock said at a news conference in Helena.
The face mask order, effective immediately, has exceptions, including for when people are eating inside, giving a speech or performance, children under the age of 5, people exercising or engaging in strenuous physical activity, people with certain medical conditions precluding safe wearing, patients at doctor’s appointments or people temporarily removing masks for identification.
Click here for a full list and the complete order.
Bullock said businesses will have the right to deny entry of anyone not wearing a mask.
“No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. It’s that simple,” he said.
He stopped short, however, of calling for fines or other punishment for failing to comply. He said law enforcement and public health should take the role of education for most violators and reserve harsher action for repeat offenders.
As of Wednesday morning, Montana had 21 counties with more than four cases of COVID-19 that must abide by the mask order. Click here to see the full list.
Montana reported 145 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning, a new record one-day total. The state also surpassed 2,000 cumulative cases since the beginning of the outbreak.
Active cases have also surpassed total recoveries. Montana now has 1,147 active COVID-19 cases, while 915 have recovered since the start of the outbreak.
Montana still has the lowest number of cases per capita in the nation, but cases in the Treasure State have doubled since the start of July, Bullock noted
Bullock highlighted Gallatin and Yellowstone counties as hot spots, having accounted for 60 percent of all cases over the past week.
This is a developing story.
Watch the news conference below: