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Board of Health passes local face covering emergency rule, extends isolation and quarantine rule

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PHOTO BY BRANDON WALKER

GALLATIN CITY-COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

During a special meeting on Friday, July 24, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health voted 7-2 to adopt a local emergency that requires use of face coverings by most people within most indoor public settings in Gallatin County to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Face coverings are required in public settings that include retail businesses, bars and restaurants, government buildings and schools, and most other public indoor settings. 

“This rule will help us slow down the spread of COVID-19 without shutting down businesses or slowing our economy,” said Matt Kelley, Gallatin County Health Officer. “Face coverings are inexpensive, safe, and can help make our community safer by slowing down the virus.” 

The measure includes exceptions for certain people, including children under the age of five, those trying to communicate with people with hearing loss, and people with medical or behavioral health conditions that would be exacerbated by face coverings. The rule does not apply to people inside their homes or residences. 

The local rule similarly mirrors ​Governor Bullock’s statewide directive​ issued July 15 that requires face coverings in public settings in Montana. Some key differences include face covering requirements in schools for students grades sixth through 12th and on construction sites when social distancing is not feasible. 

The Gallatin City-County Health Department will focus heavily on educating the public and working with businesses and organizations on face coverings, what is expected of them under the local rule and the state directive, and the importance of wearing face coverings. 

The Board also voted 8-1 to extend a local emergency rule that requires people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to remain in isolation until they are no longer contagious. The rule also requires quarantine of those who are identified as close contacts of known cases and those who are symptomatic and awaiting test results. Kelley stressed that anyone subject to the isolation or quarantine rule would be contacted by the health department and supported in efforts to prevent disease spread. 

Both rules are in effect until Oct. 22, 2020. The face covering rule can be seen ​here​. The isolation and quarantine rule can be seen ​here​

The Gallatin City-County Health Department Call Center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions about COVID-19. Reach the Call Center by phone at 406-548-0123 or email at callcenter@readygallatin.com​.

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