Just hours after new Montana Governor Greg Gianforte announced that he had repealed many of the state's current COVID-19 mandates effective Friday, the Gallatin County Health Board said not so fast.

The governor said he is rolling back restrictions on bars, restaurants, and casinos, which were set down by his predecessor Steve Bullock. Gianforte's directive (Executive Order 2-2021) is not changing anything in regards to masks at this time. Click here to read the governor's full set of directives.

Wednesday afternoon, the Gallatin County Health Department issued a statement affirming that county health boards supersede governor directives and that nothing would be changing here in Gallatin County. Here is the statement in full:

On a day when we are announcing two additional COVID-19 deaths in Gallatin County, it is important to remember that in Montana, local boards of health have a duty under state law to take actions to protect the public health in their community. In Gallatin County, the board of health has passed an emergency rule related to hours of operation and capacity limits for certain businesses, including bars, restaurants, and gyms.  

The bottom line is that board’s actions remain in effect in Gallatin County. That means the rules related to bars, casinos,  restaurants, distilleries, and breweries closing at 10 pm, capacity limits for certain businesses, and limits on group size to 25 or less do not change with the governor’s announcement. 

We expect businesses and individuals to continue to comply with these rules. This disease remains dangerous and the Board will continue to use the best scientific evidence and epidemiological data available to take actions to reduce spread of this dangerous disease.

Last week, Yellowstone County, which has recorded the most COVID-related deaths in the state, rescinded their restrictions on their own in anticipation of the Governor's action today. It will be interesting to see if the governor will issue any statement about counties that decide not to follow his guidelines.

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