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Governor Bullock Announces Additional Phase One Guidelines

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced additional Phase One guidelines that will allow gyms and fitness studios, movie theaters and museums the option to reopen beginning Friday, May 15 as long as they adhere to strict guidelines limiting capacity, requiring social distancing, and imposing thorough sanitation requirements.

“In consultation with public health experts, we have determined that these businesses can carefully reopen under strict capacity, social distancing, and sanitation guidelines,” Governor Bullock said. “As Montana continues to aggressively manage the virus and we move forward with the plan to reopen, I am again reminding Montanans that social distancing is vital to continue curbing the virus. All of us must do our part to stay open and stay on a path of decline in positive cases.”

The reopening date is set at May 15 at the request of the businesses and local public health to allow time to prepare and ensure guidance is being followed. 

Under the updated guidance developed with input from public health officials, fitness studios, gyms and pools in gyms can begin operating at 50 percent capacity and with strict guidelines including requiring staff to sanitize frequently touched areas and equipment during hours of operation, train workers on symptoms and handwashing technique as well as posting relevant signage instructing members with symptoms to stay home. Hand sanitizer must be available, employees should wear masks and guests should wear masks when possible. Additionally, a six-foot distance must be maintained between equipment and in locker rooms. Personal training may be allowed if social distancing can be maintained. Indoor group classes may not be offered and outdoor group classes can be conducted as long as social distancing is maintained and in groups of 10 or fewer if appropriate physical distancing is not possible.

Gym pools are allowed to operate at half capacity as well. The CDC has indicated that properly maintained pool water inactivates the virus. It is critical that pools that have shut down during this time or reduced maintenance follow proper reopening procedures and sampling to ensure the water is safe for use before opening. In the event a confirmed COVID-19 case is associated with a facility the facility should clean in accordance with CDC’s facility environmental cleaning procedures for workout areas, seating, locker rooms, and other areas of the establishment frequented by swimmers. Pool classes may continue if social distancing can be observed and swimmers should maintain a six foot distance in the pool at all times. Guidance was also issued this week to allow pools at licensed public accommodations (Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfasts, Tourist Homes, etc) to operate if at a 50 percent capacity and with additional social distancing and safety measures.

Non-tactile museums and movie theaters will be allowed to open under the updated guidance. Interactive museums or museums that allow touch interactions and displays and live performance theaters cannot operate.

Museums and theaters must keep their capacity at 50 percent and maintain six feet between non family members or the immediate party. Signage must be posted instructing those who have COVID-19 related symptoms to stay home. Facilities must increase cleaning and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces and control customer flow to maximize distancing. Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations must be available and each venue should create and implement a written COVID-19 response plan. Cleaning and sanitizing should be completed no less than every two hours. Facilities should install shielding between workers and attendees whenever possible.

Theaters should increase cleaning time period between events, performances and showings to ensure that commonly touched areas such as arm rests and railings are cleaned frequently. Ushers should monitor and enforce social distancing in theaters. At museums, gift shops are also limited to 50 percent capacity.

The full guidance can be read HERE.

Montana is still under phase one of the Reopening the Big Sky phased approach and adjustment of the phases is at the discretion of the Governor. Other places of assembly such as performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, music halls, and pools that are not in gyms or at a licensed public accommodation shall remain closed. Gatherings should continue to be avoided in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. Senior living and assisted living facilities must continue to restrict visitors. The 14-day travel quarantine remains in effect.


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