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Health Board votes to open gyms, museums, theaters

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Health officer said Phase 3 still a ‘long ways off’

By Mira Brody EBS Staff

BOZEMAN – At a May 13 meeting, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health voted to amend the current local emergency rule to harmonize with ​Gov. Steve Bullock’s revisions to Phase 1, often referred to as “Phase 1.5,” which allows for the opening of pools at licensed public accommodations (hotels, motels, B&Bs, tourist homes, etc.), gyms and fitness studios, movie theaters and museums starting May 15. The board stressed that this is not yet Phase 2, but an amendment to Phase 1.

Restrictions at gyms include operating at 50 percent capacity with strict sanitization 

and physical distancing requirements and closing off sitting areas, such as lobbies. Personal training sessions may be offered with strict adherence to physical distancing guidelines and masks are encouraged to be worn by the trainer and trainee. Indoor group classes are not yet allowed under this amendment, including yoga.

“The rule as written seeks to mirror what the governor has allowed in his directive and that does not include any indoor classes,” clarified Kelley, stating that the county has the power to implement stronger restrictions, but cannot make them more lenient than what the state has ordered.

Restrictions at theaters include increasing time between events to allow for thorough cleaning, operating at half capacity, groups not related or living together to sit at least six feet apart, employing ushers to monitor and enforce physical distancing. This reopening applies only to movie theaters, not live events such as live theater or music shows.

As of today, Gallatin County has had a grand total of 149 cases. 145 patients have recovered while, there are currently 3 active cases and zero hospitalizations within the county. There has been one death related to COVID-19 in the county.

“This is all imperfect because we’ve never done this before,” said Kelley, who mentioned he cannot yet make decisions about large summer events but said he does not believe we’ll move into Phase 3 anytime soon. “I think the elected officials are just trying to make the best decision to find that balance. It can’t be all about public health and it can’t be all about the economy, so we’re just trying to do our best.”

In a report, Health Officer Matt Kelley noted that the three additional COVID-19 cases that were discovered last week are all from the same family in West Yellowstone and were transmitted from outside the state. The Health department is only concerned about a regular trend in increasing cases, not an occasional case or two. Kelley will be traveling to West Yellowstone this week to talk to officials about increasing their healthcare capacity when the park decides to reopen this summer.

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