Restaurants, bars can stay open later under Phase 2 of MT reopening

Posted at 7:56 AM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 09:56:17-04

GREAT FALLS — Montana officially entered Phase Two of the "Reopening The Big Sky" plan on June 1, thereby relaxing some restrictions on businesses and public gatherings.

The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) published additional guidance on June 3 that allows restaurants, bars, and breweries to stay open an hour later and let customers sit on stools at bars. The initial guidance mandated that they close at 11:30 p.m.

The further easing of the rules goes into effect on Friday, June 5. The DPHHS guidance states:

"The required time of closure at these establishments is extended from 11:30PM to 12:30AM. In order to open seating at a bar the following social distancing and sanitation protocols must be followed, unless, an equally protective measure utilizing spacing, or physical barriers, has been proposed in place of a listed requirement and has been approved by the local health department."

Here is the guidance published by DPHHS:


  1. Maintain six feet of social distancing between patrons
  2. Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched services
  3. Eliminate shared or community items

Implementation measures:
Social Distancing

  • No bar seating within 6 feet of a well or taps, an area where drinks are passed to servers, ice machines, or other areas used to prepare or serve food or beverages
  • Bars stools should be spaced 6 feet apart
  • All patrons should have a place to sit; No standing and mingling allowed at the bar or elsewhere
  • Keep all barstools 6 feet apart. If a group of 6 or less comes in and requests to be seated together, a staff member can group seat together and then re-space to 6ft once the group leaves
  • Facilities should use discretion in accommodating group seating when considering group seating
  • If 6 feet cannot be maintained between patrons and servers/staff using well areas or taps, a physical barrier or closing wells may be used to protect servers/staff
  • The barrier must be at least 36 inches high and offer enough protection to prevent employee exposure to droplets from anyone seated within 6 feet of either side of the serving area
  • Wells taken out of use should be marked with a sign to remind staff
  • There may be a designated area at the bar, away from other customers, wells, taps, prepstations where patrons may place and receive orders. Six feet of social distancing should be maintained by all patrons of separate parties and only one customer may use this space at a time. Patrons may grab their drink or order and then return to their seats. (See above if 6ft cannot be maintained.)

Clean and Disinfect

  • Disinfect barstools and counter space between patrons
  • No reusing drink coasters unless they can be disinfected between patrons
  • No refilling glasses, new glass is needed for each order
  • No shake-a-day unless dice and cup can be disinfected in-between patrons

Eliminate Community Items

  • No community peanuts or other foods unless they can be served in individual containers

One other change is that beginning on Friday, June 5, poker rooms are once again allowed to operate with the same goals of the bar seating.

Implementation measures:

  • Require everyone to sanitize their hands upon entering or reentering the card room
  • Limit the number of available seats to six players in order to create some spacing between them
  • Players will verbalize all bets and the dealer will physically handle all chip transactions
  • All poker staff will wear masks
  • Poker staff will sanitize and or wash hands in between each cash transaction
  • Poker staff will sanitize tables, chairs, chips and cards with disinfectant products every day
  • They will use steam for the fabric on the chairs and the vinyl covering on the tables

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