Montana Public Radio

Yellowstone County Prepares New Rules For Businesses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 18, 2020
Originally published on March 18, 2020 6:23 pm

Yellowstone County is preparing new rules for restaurants, bars and casinos to open up to the public again following the health department’s weeklong closure ordered earlier this week. It’s still unclear if or when that might happen amid coronavirus concern.

 Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said Wednesday the closure’s end-date -- currently set for March 23 -- may change depending on the status of COVID-19 in the county.

“As we look at the available data, the decision will be made as to whether we lift, modify or keep the order in place beyond that. I know that’s the question that everyone has. The answer is simply that at this point we don’t know," Felton said. 

Felton said he’s letting businesses know now so they have time to determine how they’ll physically distance patrons, take employee illness into consideration and clean surfaces, among other things.

He said establishments must meet these minimums in order to re-open.

Jodi McKinnon, manager of the Reno Club Bar, advocated for social distancing measures instead of full closures.

“I think there's a lot of other businesses out there, the CostCos, the salons, things like that where people are gathering that are able to stay in business and those people are able to make money, whereas I feel us as an industry are being targeted a little bit," McKinnon said. 

Some Yellowstone County businesses are alerting customers of voluntary closures.

A handful of Montana county health departments have instituted similar closures following the confirmation of COVID-19 illnesses in-state.

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