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Bozeman bar employee charged with obstructing a public health officer’s inspection

Blurred interior of a restaurant with liquor bottles in the background and empty bar in foreground
zimmytws/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Blurred interior of a restaurant with liquor bottles in the background and empty bar in the foreground

Gallatin County prosecutors have filed misdemeanor charges against an employee at a Bozeman bar accusing him of obstructing a public health officer from inspecting the bar’s compliance with pandemic restrictions.

Charging documents allege a bar employee prevented then-Gallatin County health officer Matt Kelley from inspecting Bar IX in April when some coronavirus restrictions, like a mask mandate and social distancing requirements, were still in place.

Kelley said in court documents that he identified himself as the health officer to the employee multiple times before being “forcibly shoved” out of the bar and leaving.

Prosecutors say the bar employee later threatened via text to publish Kelley’s cell phone number on social media if Kelley returned to the bar.

Police said in court documents that the bar employee was unaware that health officers have a right to inspect bars. At the time of Kelley’s inspection, the man told police, the bar was at capacity.

The bar employee is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court Nov. 1. Bar IX is not changed with any crime.

About a month before the incident, Kelley announced he was stepping down as health officer to lead the Montana Public Health Institute.

Public health workers across the state have quit their jobs during the pandemic citing stress, threats and lack of support from public officials.

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