By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock in a March 31 press conference announced new relief measures to Montanans impacted by COVID-19 while under the shelter-in-place directive. Before announcing the measures, Bullock announced a fifth confirmed COVID-19 death in the state, but assured that there were also 32 individuals who have fully recovered from the virus.
Bullock’s relief measures include a directive that prohibits landlords from evicting their tenants or issuing late fees and residential foreclosures for nonpayment. In addition, suspension of utilities during the emergency is prohibited including electricity, gas, sewage disposal, water and internet.
Calling the directive a “common sense measure showing how our communities have come together,” Bullock noted that other states have similar relief plans already in place.
“As Montanans take seriously the reasonability to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, they shouldn’t also have to worry about whether they can keep a roof over their heads, or have running water,” Bullock said. “They should not have to worry about having the heat turned off if they can’t pay the rent or make their monthly utility bill.”
The governor praised teachers making substantial efforts to take learning to an online platform, and said he is waving pupil requirements that would otherwise affect school funding. Bullock also lauded first responders and healthcare workers while they respond to extra need.
Under Bullock’s relief directive, Montana hospitals, with help from the Montana Finance Authority Act, will receive financing necessary to stay open, pay staff and acquire the supplies they need to properly fight the COVID-19 coronavirus.
While Montana usually encourages visitors and tourism, Bullock asked travelers to stay home, and those Montanans returning from out-of-state travel to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Travelers in and out of the state’s airports and railroad stations may be subject to temperature and symptom checks and also questioned about their exposure history.
“Thank you to Montanans for taking these steps seriously,” Bullock said at the conclusion of the press conference. “We are doing what we can to stop the spread of COVID-19, but that takes all of us.”