Governor Bullock Issues Directive Requiring Face Coverings in Certain Indoor Spaces and Outdoor Gatherings to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Montana Landscape MONTANA - Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020 declare that a state of emergency exists in Montana due to the global outbreak of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. The legislature has delegated to the Governor authority to respond to emergencies. During a declared state of emergency, the Governor may “control ingress and egress to and from an incident or emergency or disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises within the area.” Section 10-3-104(2)(c), MCA. In responding to the emergency, the Governor “shall use the services and facilities of the existing officers and agencies of the state, and all officers and agencies shall cooperate with and extend their services and facilities to the governor as the governor may request in the carrying out of the purposes of” the emergency response statutes. Section 10-3- 305(2).

In addition, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS or Department), acting under the Governor’s direction, may “issue written orders for correction” of “conditions of public health importance” through measures including “isolation and quarantine” and “abatement of public health nuisances.” Section 50-1-202, MCA. A condition of public health importance includes any “disease . . . that is identifiable on an individual or community level and that can reasonably be expected to lead to adverse health effects in the community.” Section 50-1-101(2), MCA. The Department, under the Governor’s direction, may take action to correct public health deficiencies in “buildings or facilities where persons assemble.” Section 50-1-203, MCA. The Department, under the Governor’s direction, may also impose quarantine and isolation measures to protect public health. Section 50-1-204, MCA. Montana law provides that these authorities will be utilized to respond to an “outbreak of disease,” § 10-3-103(4), MCA, and to “limit the transmission of the communicable disease,” see, e.g., § 50-1-101(6), MCA.

COVID-19 is an easily transmissible, potentially fatal respiratory illness that spreads in the air through droplets from infected persons. COVID-19 is transmissible even by individuals who are not currently showing symptoms of the disease and who do not know they are infected. Use of a fabric covering over the mouth and nose, however, is an effective means of limiting the potential for transmission to others by both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals infected with the virus. Recent research suggests that universal use of face coverings in enclosed public spaces would substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19. A recent economic analysis from Goldman Sachs found universal face covering usage to be a potentially effective substitute for business closures. Based on these considerations, many major retailers and state and local governments have recently adopted measures to encourage or mandate the use of face coverings.

COVID-19 has led to a once-in-a-century pandemic. More than 3.2 million Americans have been infected, and more than 135,000 have died. In the last month, active cases in Montana have risen from 55 to over 1,000. Too many Montanans continue to congregate in large gatherings where a single person can spread COVID-19 to many others; and too few are wearing face coverings in public settings. Inability to control the spread of COVID-19 endangers vulnerable Montanans, businesses who want to keep their doors open, and hospitals who need the capacity to treat both COVID-19 patients and all others needing medical care. My first duty is to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Montanans. Epidemics of dangerous diseases have been a threat to Americans throughout history. As a result, since the earliest days of this nation, the United States Supreme Court and Montana Supreme Court have recognized the State’s authority to impose quarantines, mandatory vaccination orders, and other public health measures to prevent the spread of contagion. Compared to these measures, the use of face coverings is a modest imposition that can do a great deal to keep Montanans safe and Montana businesses open. Accordingly, I have determined that, in response to the emergency, it is necessary to require face coverings in certain settings to prevent the spread of communicable disease in counties currently experiencing four or more active cases. I strongly encourage Montanans in counties with fewer than four cases to wear facemcoverings as well.

Therefore, in accordance with the authority vested in me under the Constitution, Article VI, Sections 4 and 13, and the laws of the State of Montana, Title 10, Chapter 3 and Title 50, Chapter 1, MCA, and other applicable provisions of the Constitution and Montana law, I hereby direct the following measures be in place in the State of Montana, effective immediately:

Definitions
As used in this Directive, the following terms have the following meanings:


Face Covering Requirement in Indoor Spaces Open to the Public.


Face Covering Requirements for Certain Organized Outdoor Activities


Exceptions

Businesses, government offices, other persons responsible for indoor spaces open to the public, and sponsors of organized outdoor activities are not required to ensure the following individuals wear face coverings:


Enforcement


Applicability


Authorities: Sections 10-3-104, -103, -302, and -305, MCA; §§ 50-1-202, -101, -203, and -204, MCA; Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020; Montana Constitution, Art. VI, Sections 4 and 13; and all othermapplicable provisions of state and federal law.

Limitations


Tags: Montana Department of Commerce