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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Health Officer Inspecting Bozeman Bar Says Employee Shoved Him Out The Door

Graphic: Montana news from Montana Public Radio

Bozeman police are investigating a report made by Gallatin County’s health officer alleging bar employees shoved him multiple times during a health inspection.

Health officer Matt Kelley says he was pushed out of a local bar during an inspection looking into a growing number of COVID-19 infections among younger people. 

Kelley says an employee of Bar IX shoved him out the door after he identified himself as the health officer checking to see whether people inside the business were following health guidelines.

“And he just was hearing none of it, and just shoved me out the door onto the street.”

At the time of the inspection, around the end of April, Gallatin County was considering changes to its social distancing and mask requirements. Kelley says Bar IX was operating like there wasn’t an ongoing pandemic.

“There were people shoulder-to-shoulder, standing on tables, standing on the bar.”

Bar IX didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Bozeman police have confirmed they’ve received Kelley’s complaint and are investigating the incident, but were unable to release more details.

Kelley says the incident is concerning and that someone can get hurt if legislative leadership continues to use words like “tyranny” to describe the work public health officials do.

The Republican-led legislative session passed bills removing local authority to enact ordinances, like mask requirements at businesses. Legislators claimed that former Gov. Steve Bullock and local health officials overstepped their power by enacting and enforcing those policies.

Health officials in Montana have borne the brunt of enforcing guidelines meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. Several have resigned citing harassment or lack of support throughout the pandemic.

Freddy Monares was a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio.
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